LAS VEGAS — Deep Orange 3, the third-generation Deep Orange vehicle prototype designed and engineered by Clemson University automotive engineering students is a whole new vehicle, inside and out.

They unveiled Deep Orange 3 Wednesday at the 2012 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show. The annual show attracts more than 120,000 attendees and more than 2,000 exhibitors to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Working at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), the students have free reign to push the boundaries of conventional design and engineering. They designed the vehicle in partnership with Mazda North American Operations and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calf.

Deep Orange 3 features a unique TwinEngine hybrid powertrain that automatically chooses front-, rear- or all-wheel-drive; a load-bearing structure based on innovative sheet-folding technology patented by Industrial Origami; and a groundbreaking 3+3 seating configuration in sports car architecture all packaged in an exterior design created by students at the Art Center College of Design.

Paul Venhovens, BMW Endowed Chair in automotive systems integration, who leads the Deep Orange program, said the latest design not only provides solutions to the efficiency-vs.-sportiness debate, but also delivers driving pleasure, practicality and flexibility in a setting where everyone enjoys the ride.

The vehicle accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds with a top speed of 125 mph, achieving 42 city and 49 highway miles per gallon.

“The students’ design is truly innovative,” Venhovens said. “With each new concept the class must push the boundaries of conventional thinking to produce a vehicle that is both groundbreaking and functional.

“The students at CU-ICAR represent tomorrow’s engineering leaders who will need to combine deep knowledge of a particular field with the breadth to place it in context,” Venhovens said. “Deep Orange 3 is evidence of that.”

Deep Orange runs the course of two academic years in parallel with Clemson’s two-year masters program in automotive engineering. The program provides students with experience in financial and market analysis, vehicle design, development, prototyping and production planning, and gives them an opportunity to work with automotive industry partners to develop ideas.

Deep Orange 3 would not have been possible without the partnership of Mazda North American Operations, Venhovens said.

Robert Davis, senior vice president of U.S. Operations for Mazda North American Operations and a Clemson alumnus, said the partnership with  underscores the company’s belief in the value of education. The experiences Clemson students gain from Deep Orange makes them very attractive to industry, he said.

“These engineers will design and build the cars we drive tomorrow,” Davis said. “The work they contribute to the Deep Orange project is outstanding, and we at Mazda are honored to support their efforts.” 

John Waraniak, vice president of vehicle technology for SEMA, also a CU-ICAR partner, said the Deep Orange project demonstrates Clemson's vision to develop CU-ICAR as the world’s premier auto manufacturer, performance aftermarket and motor sports research and education facility.

“Deep Orange encourages open innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity,” Waraniak said. “Next-generation vehicle enthusiasts want the fastest and coolest cars, as well as the smartest cars. For this alone, CU-ICAR and SEMA is an obvious partnership.”


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