CU-ICAR students unveil Deep Orange 9 concept vehicle

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The Deep Orange 9 vehicle combines high-performance, ultra-tough racing features with a clean, fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain, advanced technical innovations, a lightweight/high-strength steel structure, and highly dynamic handling and acceleration. Photo provided.

Students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville unveiled their newest concept vehicle on Saturday, Oct. 6. 

The 600-horsepower rallycross car is the ninth concept vehicle developed as part of the Deep Orange program, according to a news release.

The program provides select graduate automotive engineering students at CU-ICAR with an opportunity to design, build, and test a concept vehicle sponsored by industry partners. 

Deep Orange 9 was sponsored by Honda R&D America, Inc. (HRA) and supported by Aisin Group, JTEKT Corp., BFGoodrich, Red Bull, and the Specialty Equipment Market Association.

“Deep Orange 9 was a platform for Clemson’s students to develop a concept vehicle that fuses Honda’s challenges to create a carbon-sustainable society while providing customers joy and freedom of mobility,” Duane Detwiler, director of HRA’s Strategic Research Operations division, said in the release. “We also believe these students can make significant contributions as future HRA associates in helping Honda realize its long-term vision for mobility.”

Students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville unveiled their newest concept vehicle on Saturday, Oct. 6. Photo provided.

Honda challenged the 19-student team at CU-ICAR to create a fuel-efficient vehicle capable of competing in rallycross, a global motorsport that involves sprint-style racing with large jumps, aggressive jockeying, and drifting.

The students began working on the vehicle two years ago, engineering their concept around four primary goals: Improve fuel economy, reduce emissions, match current rallycross race performance, and minimize total vehicle operating costs.

“Our program requires students to make highly technical decisions quickly, while also keeping the top-level project goals such as safety, performance, customer usability, and compressed deadlines in mind,” said Robert Prucka, an associate professor in the department of automotive engineering at CU-ICAR, who led the project. “Designing, building, and testing a fully functional vehicle of this level gives our students the perspective, skills, and hands-on experience that allows them to seamlessly transition into the workforce.”

Though they begin as production cars, rallycross vehicles are modified with internal combustion engines to meet the power and agility needs of the sport, according to the release.

The Deep Orange 9 vehicle combines high-performance, ultra-tough racing features with a clean, fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain, advanced technical innovations, a lightweight/high-strength steel structure, and highly dynamic handling and acceleration.

Students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville unveiled their newest concept vehicle on Saturday, Oct. 6. Photo provided.

Students will continue to refine and improve the vehicle as part of their curriculum, including work on control systems, powertrain, vehicle dynamics, and suspension, according to the release.

Michigan-based automaker Ford Motor Co. has partnered with the CU-ICAR in Greenville to sponsor Deep Orange 10. Participating students will design and manufacture an autonomous electric vehicle.

For more information, visit www.cuicar.com.

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