Flegel, C., Bhivate, P., Li, L., Mathur, Y. et al., "Conceptual Development of a Multi-Material Composite Structure for an Urban Utility/Activity Vehicle," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars - Mech. Syst. 9(1):253-270, 2016, doi:10.4271/2016-01-1334.
The Deep Orange framework is an integral part of the graduate automotive engineering education at Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). The initiative was developed to immerse students into the world of an OEM. For the 6th generation of Deep Orange, the goal was to develop an urban utility/activity vehicle for the year 2020.The objective of this paper is to describe the development of a multimaterial lightweight Body-in-White (BiW) structure to support an all-electric powertrain combined with an interior package that maximizes volume to enable a variety of interior configurations and activities for Generation Z users. AutoPacific data were first examined to define personas on the basis of their demographics and psychographics. The resulting market research, benchmarking, and brand essence studies were then converted to consumer needs and wants, to establish vehicle target and subsystem requirement, which formed the foundation of the Unique Selling Points (USPs) of the concept. The various sub-systems within the vehicle were then developed; a systems integration approach was used to balance design, engineering, and project (cost, weight, and timing) compromises.The paper discusses the BiW as an enabler of the vehicle USPs, including an very low, flat floor, a utility-oriented asymmetric door concept, and an integrated hatch and rear bumper which create a low lift-over height for loading and unloading. The development of the topology, geometry, and properties of the BiW structure in relation to the chassis, powertrain, and occupant packaging elements required balancing design space, functionality, cost, and weight. Novel manufacturing processes, materials, and joining techniques are described in addition to elaborations on the final realization of the BiW concept.