Check Out the Car Custom-Designed for Millennials, By Millennials

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Courtesy of CU-ICAR

Deep Orange 3

What’s the ideal car for the millennial generation? Well, there’s some debate as to whether Gen Y consumers want cars at all. But for those who do, Mazda has helped develop a concept that’s supposed to be perfect for millennial drivers.

Mazda recently unveiled a new concept car designed and engineered by graduate students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. The concept, called “Deep Orange 3,” was born with the express purpose of building a vehicle for millennials, based on findings gathered from surveys of 70,000 young consumers.

The result is small and sleek—about the size of the compact Mazda3—but it stands out from the usual sports cars and commuter vehicles supposedly aimed at the millennial market in a few interesting ways:

There’s seating for six. The surveys indicated that millennials really like to travel in packs. Rather than going with the standard five-seater sedan or the stodgy minivan or SUV with space for seven or eight, Mazda’s concept car seats six—three up front, three in back. And instead of an old-fashioned bench seat in the front row, there’s a middle bucket seat that folds down when not used. Those middle seats are cramped, though, and are only big enough for “50th percentile male occupants,” as designers put it.

(MORE: The Great Debate: Do Millennials Want Cars or Not?)

It’s quite stylish. Generally speaking, cars can be sporty or spacious, but not both. Millennial consumers desire a vehicle with both attributes, however, hence the Deep Orange 3 looks like a sports hatchback but manages to squeeze in six passengers if needed.

Origami is involved. The chassis consists of aluminum—which is lighter but more expensive than steel—produced using a special “origami” technique described as “a patented technology that involves folding and riveting laser cut sheets of aluminum,” by MLive.

It’s AWD, electric, and gas-powered. Because Gen Y is deemed to be exceptionally environmentally conscious while simultaneously keen on all-wheel drive, the car is equipped with what the team calls a “parallel hybrid powertrain concept.” A turbocharge 4-cylinder internal combustion engine powers the front wheels, while a lithium-battery-powered electric motor takes care of the rear wheels. “This configuration allows for regenerative braking, all-wheel-drive and power boost functionality,” the Deep Orange site explains.

Young people probably can’t afford it. In surveys, millennial consumers by and large stated that they were not interested in basic, entry-level vehicles. Instead, the prototypical Gen Y buyer wants a car that has ample amenities and space, looks cool, features the latest technology, is fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly, and doesn’t seem at all like a cheap set of wheels for a Monday-Friday commuter. All of which is a bit problematic given that the base price for such a vehicle rises as each of these requirements is met.

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“This young generation is really a difficult market,” Paul Venhovens, the Clemson professor and former BMW executive who supervised the Deep Orange project, told Automotive News. “They don’t really gravitate to econo-boxes. They seem to want what they can’t afford.”


They can't afford it?  No problem.  They will buy the car and then continue to live off of their parents.


Everyone commenting seems to know whats wrong with the world and how to fix it. Me? I just kinda like the car.

EzraHorne 1 Like

This isn't news.  It's marketing disguised as news.  This is what advertising copy looked like when you read National Geographic in the 1960's and 70's. Don't be fooled.


The last two paragraphs would ALMOST qualify, if they investigated or reported on actual young people's REASONING for not buying cars.  Also, there are no "econo boxes" anymore.  There are only 2 cars now that are under $10,000

mr.quan 1 Like

It should be neon


“They don’t really gravitate to econo-boxes. They seem to want what they can’t afford.”

And there we have it, the oldest "story of our lives"....

CodyChristianson 2 Like

All I want is a stylish look, eco friendly, but without the Lamborghini price tag. I don't understand why I can't have a Toyota, But with the futuristic look of a Lamborghini or other nice looking car. I don't need 12 cylinders, aluminum chassis, turbo charger or any thing else like that. All the up to date technology of a Mercedes can wait. Let's take one step at a time an make the above as cheap and sustainable (ie, long lasting) as possible.


@CodyChristianson I totally agree.  I don't understand why car companies can't grasp the idea of making something like a Hyundai Sonata but make it look like a Corvette.  It's just a damn shell.  The looks don't decide what the inside is capable of, but it's sure a big part of what people look at when they buy.

WilfTarquin 1 Like

Well, Gen Y being the way they are, I expect they expect dad to buy the car for them. So the price is no concern.

Not sure this is a car for Gen Y, tho. It's too discrete, for starters. And it doesn't appear to have wifi, or multiple cameras which automatically upload to snapchat. And it appears you have to drive it yourself.


@WilfTarquin Snark aside, you're half right. This millennial bought a used and then a new car on his own. That said, this one misses the mark for me. I do want something small and sleek. Like @TallusRip  said above, a Corvette body on a Hyundai chassis or something would be fine.  But I won't buy another gas powered car, and this hybrid gas-electric trick isn't fooling me. I -do- want wi-fi, and at least a rear facing camera. It ought to drive itself, and with the progress Google is making I'm holding onto my current car until my next one can. 

Tell me about USB ports, streaming music capability, electric recharge times, and internet connectivity. Tell me about A.I. control, mileage per charge, and a heads-up-display.

Gimme something that screams tech. I'll be back when the manufacturers do.


@WilfTarquin It should come with the optional whining pack, though.  It's a sound the car makes when the driver presses the gas, but it won't quite go until it whines a lot about the effort.