When you hear about 600-horsepower hybrids with four-wheel steering and blistering acceleration, you might think it's some wild new concept car. But in the case of Deep Orange 9, it's not a concept from an automaker -- it's a very real thing made by graduate students.
Deep Orange 9 is the culmination of two years of effort from 19 students at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research. With a sponsorship from Honda, the students were tasked with creating a fuel-efficient car that could handle the intense rigors of motorsport.
The result is precisely that. Deep Orange 9 uses the body of the current-generation Honda Civic sedan, but its powertrain isn't exactly straight from the factory. Instead, Clemson students created a hybrid powertrain that puts out 600 horsepower and shoves Deep Orange 9 to 60 mph in just two seconds. That's about on par with the performance coming from modern rallycross cars, which served as the inspiration for this build.
Instead of being a series hybrid like many modern cars, Clemson's Deep Orange 9 is a through-the-road hybrid. That means one axle puts down the power from the internal combustion engine while the other gets its motive force from electricity. Clemson University's press release says Deep Orange 9 is a "mid-engine through-the-road hybrid," so the gas engine is likely mounted midship and responsible for powering the rear wheels, with the electric motor powering the front wheels.
In addition to creating the car's hybrid powertrain, the students built a number of other systems into the car to boost either efficiency or capability. Four-wheel steering allows for tighter turning, while brake regeneration will help improve the car's fuel economy. The students also designed an exhaust after-treatment system that reduces tailpipe emissions. A semi-active suspension reacts to various terrains and adjusts the dampers to accommodate whatever terrain the car is on.
Deep Orange 9 was created with the help of its main sponsor, Honda, but Clemson University has worked with other automakers on prior Deep Orange projects. One of its most recent creations came in 2016,. This one was just a bit wilder to the eyes, rocking a unique boxy look that was built to appeal to Generation Z's desire for flexibility in design.
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