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a car for taming the city | research and creative discovery | Clemson University

a car for taming the city

by Brian Mullen

Deep Orange 5 offers reconfigurable seating and digital arrays to make driving, working, and relaxing easy and fun in big cities. Photo by Ken Scar.


Once upon a time, a car was a ticket to independence. Hit the road, crank up the radio, escape from the crowd. But for many of today’s young drivers, it’s the socializing, not the solitude, that gets them revved.

That’s the idea behind Deep Orange 5, the fifth generation in Clemson’s concept vehicle program. The vehicle, designed for generations Y and Z (young adults) who will live in megacities in 2020, is strong on mobility, social networking, and digital media, and brings a world of information, entertainment, and connections to the car.

“Deep Orange Five is about creating a better value proposition for young adults who have little money to spare, less interest in vehicle ownership than previous generations, yet need a personal mobility solution that aligns with their complex lifestyle,” says Paul Venhovens, who leads the Deep Orange program at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). “The vehicle was designed by the Art Center College of Design, and engineered by automotive engineering graduate students with the characteristics of an urban lifestyle put first and foremost.”

Fit for tight spaces

The team unveiled Deep Orange 5, sponsored by General Motors, April 22 at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan. The concept car’s features include:

  • reconfigurable seating to enable people to use the vehicle for driving, working, relaxing, and storage;
  • a digital cockpit that can display an array of content for both the driver and passengers;
  • a color display integrated into both front doors facing outward, allowing the driver and occupants to display digital messages to the outside world;
  • double-hinged doors for comfortable egress and ingress in tight urban parking spaces and improved access for users with disabilities; and
  • a two-piece rear hatch for access in tight parking spaces.

Janet Goings, associate director of research and development at General Motors, says, “Our experience working with these students was exceptional. They came up with creative and innovative ideas for their defined target consumers. We were very impressed with their holistic approach and final result of this accelerated product development process.”

Deep Orange 5 was unveiled April 22 at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit. Photo by Ken Scar.


Paul Venhovens is the BMW Endowed Chair in Automotive Systems Integration in the Department of Automotive Engineering at CU-ICAR and the College of Engineering and Science. For more:

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