The innovative, student-engineered Deep Orange 3 is on display at the SEMA trade show.

The innovative, student-engineered Deep Orange 3 is on display at the SEMA trade show.
Image Credit: Clemson University

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The innovative, six-seat Deep Orange 3 sports car, engineered by Clemson University students, is on display at the nation’s premier automotive trade show.

The next-generation concept vehicle was sponsored by Mazda and engineered by automotive engineering students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). It is being shown this week during the 2013 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.

The Deep Orange program showcases advanced vehicle technologies and provides students an opportunity to work directly with automotive industry partners.

Deep Orange 3 features a unique 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 groundbreaking 3+3 seating configuration in sports car architecture.

The vehicle’s prototype chassis was unveiled during last year’s SEMA Show, minus the body panels. The vehicle’s panels were designed by Frederick Naaman when he was a student at the Pasadena, Calif., Art Center College of Design, a CU-ICAR partner. The car returned to SEMA this year as a completed vehicle.

Paul Venhovens, BMW Endowed Chair in Automotive Systems Integration at CU-ICAR, who leads the Deep Orange program, said Clemson University has designed a curriculum in automotive engineering like no other, making it one of the most exceptional, hands-on programs in automotive engineering.

In essence, Deep Orange project is set up as a car company, Venhovens said.

“We strongly feel certain elements of the automotive industry require change to create a more sustainable industry,” Venhovens said. “We believe in open innovation platforms and looking at disruptive approaches to building the cars of tomorrow.”

Venhovens was joined Wednesday at the show by John Waraniak, vice president of vehicle technology for SEMA, and Robert Prucka, a faculty member on the powertrain team at CU-ICAR, who discussed the expansion of a five-year relationship through SEMA research funding.

As part of a $1 million two-year grant, CU-ICAR will develop a Transient Emissions and Fuel Economy Laboratory and a Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory to provide physical testing, engineering resources and research support for performance product development, testing, analysis and integration.

The grant will help speed to market performance aftermarket components for SEMA members that design, engineer and produce emissions-regulated and vehicle dynamics products.

Prucka said current and future federal and state regulations for emissions, fuel economy and vehicle dynamics pose significant challenges to SEMA members. The interaction of aftermarket performance products on the overall vehicle performance often require large capital and engineering investment to develop compliant products.

Many SEMA members do not have access to full-scale laboratories where they can receive comprehensive engineering support for product development, Prucka said.

“This new project will help fill that gap and provide another unique level of education for our students,” he said.


The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR)
CU-ICAR is a 250-acre advanced-technology research campus where university, industry and government organizations collaborate. Clemson’s College of Engineering and Science offers master’s and Ph.D. programs in automotive engineering at CU-ICAR and is conducting leading-edge applied research in critical areas, such as advanced product-development strategies, sustainable mobility, intelligent manufacturing systems and advanced materials. CU-ICAR has industrial-scale laboratories and testing equipment in world-class facilities available for commercial use.

Deep Orange
As part of the graduate automotive engineering program at CU-ICAR, students are required to create and manufacture a new vehicle prototype. The vehicle’s concept and design is developed in partnership with students from the Transportation Design department at Art Center focusing holistically on the vehicle and the end-user. The program provides students with experience in vehicle design, development, prototyping and production planning. Each year, a prototype vehicle is developed with a new market focus and technical objectives. The project showcases advanced vehicle technologies and provides students an opportunity to work directly with automotive industry partners to innovate and develop ideas.