Nothing to see here, millennials
It appears the time has come for automakers to shift their attention from millennials to the next group of money-makers — Generation Z. Toyota is getting a head start on figuring out what those future Gen-Z buyers want in an automobile with its uBox concept, a project it executed with students from Clemson University.
According to the New York Times, Generation Z is loosely defined as those born from the early to mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. A bulk ofthem are in their late teens, an impressionable bunch who will soon consider big-ticket purchases like cars.
With that in mind, Toyota says “the typical customer for uBox is a young entrepreneur who wants a vehicle that can provide utility and recreation on the weekend but that can also offer office space or other career-centric or lifestyle uses during the week.”
The end product is a boxy, five-passenger utility vehicle that can be customized in a number of ways. Seats are easily removable for extra space, and an all-electric powertrain doubles as a power source for Gen-Z’s arsenal of mobile devices and tools. Some interior bits are optimized for custom three-dimensional printing.
Toyota also says the team developed an industry-first manufacturing technique that bonds composite carbon fiber with aluminum. The structure is used to support the large glass roof.
The uBox concept was developed and hand-built by graduate students at Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research in collaboration with Toyota. The project, (referred to as Deep Orange) spanned two years, and was unveiled today at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exposition in Detroit.
The uB0x concept is targeted at buyers in the year 2020. Toyota recently unveiled a more finished-looking concept called the U2 (pronounced U-Squared), which is also targeted at young and mobile entrepreneurs.
Source: Toyota, The New York Times