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Grad Students' Concept Car Unveiled

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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The veil will be lifted from "Deep Orange," the first concept car created by graduate students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), Thursday, Sept. 23, on Main Street in Greenville.

A range-extended electric vehicle to achieve the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon of gas, the first Deep Orange car will be on public display as part of "Motorsports on Main," a kick-off event for the Petit Le Mans race week at Road Atlanta.

As part of the graduate automotive engineering program, students are required to create and manufacture a new vehicle prototype, giving the students experience in vehicle design, development, prototyping and production planning.

"Deep Orange integrates research, education and collaboration into one whole," said Imtiaz Haque, chairman of the automotive engineering department. "It provides industry with an innovation platform that showcases advanced technology and it provides the students with an opportunity to work directly with automotive industry partners to innovate and to develop projects. It is, we believe, how you educate the engineer of the future."

The inaugural Deep Orange car is powered by lithium-polymer batteries that can be recharged either from a 110-volt wall socket or by a two-cylinder onboard gasoline engine. The result is an all-electric range of 20 miles, overall range of 400 miles, a top speed of 100 miles per hour and acceleration from zero to 60 mph in 10 seconds.

"The scope of the experience that Deep Orange provides our students will make them very attractive to the automotive industry," said Paul Venhovens, the BMW Endowed Chair in Automotive Systems Integration, who leads the Deep Orange initiative. "This project requires them to be directly, intimately involved in systems integration with industry partners collaborating and exposes them to the capabilities and limitations of certain technologies."

The Deep Orange vehicle prototype program was designed to run the course of two academic years in parallel with Clemson's two-year master's program in automotive engineering. Because of time constraints on the first class, the premiere Deep Orange car was converted from an existing body and chassis; plans call for students to conceptualize future Deep Orange cars from the ground up.

"This is a fluid curriculum that allows us to think outside of conventional course work and focus on the product and the consumer's needs," Venhovens said. "Each year's project will be unique, with different problems and different parameters for success."

Deep Orange 2010 will be on display during "Motorsports on Main" in the CU-ICAR tent near the intersection of Main Street and Camperdown Way. The unveiling will take place immediately following an 11:45 a.m. news conference on Thursday.

After the initial unveiling in Greenville, the vehicle will travel to Pasadena, Calif., where it will be on display at the Art Center College of Design's Classic Car Show in October. Consistently ranked the No. 1 design school in the country, the Art Center College of Design has been CU-ICAR's design and styling partner on the Deep Orange vehicle.

From there, the Deep Orange car will go to Las Vegas for the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors from the automotive and aftermarket industries. Other trade show appearances are being planned for spring and summer of 2011.