The Shape of Things to Come? Generation Z Wants This, Right Now
It’s a bit like Scooby-Doo meets A Clockwork Orange.
Graduate students at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) spent two years working with Toyota to create the ideal vehicle for the next age demographic to leap into the car-buying fray: Generation Z.
No, we’re not talking about some stodgy Millennial born in 1985, with his cardigans and Dodge Journey. Generation Z refers to the cohort born in the late 1990s (at the earliest) onward, and these are the people automakers are going to start targeting right … about … now.
Called the uBox, a name Scion might have appropriated if this was 2004, the vehicle blends versatility, cargo room and some degree of off-road capability. Clamshell doors, 3D-printed materials, a bonded glass roof and emissions-free connectivity hookups everywhere are defining characteristics of the uBox.
“Deep Orange gives students hands-on experience with the entire vehicle development process, from identifying the market opportunity through the vehicle build,” said Johnell Brooks, an associate professor in Clemson’s graduate engineering program, in a release.
Configurable seats and interior panels would allow buyers to put a personal touch on their rides. After all, you don’t want a uBox that looks just like the one your friends Jayden and Liam own.
“They’re not brand loyal, but they are very brand conscious,” said Mark Benton, Clemson’s project manager for Deep Orange, of Gen-Z car buyers. “They like to have products they can customize.”
Toyota and Clemson weren’t forthcoming on the concept’s propulsion source, but the wording of their statements and body style implies a battery electric vehicle. A high floor would allow for a large, flat battery pack and electric motor, freeing up space for a cavernous interior (which could be rented out on Airbnb during Gen-Z’s low-money years).
[Image: Toyota Motor Corporation]
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