Can Millennials build a car that Millennials will actually buy?

Automakers are understandably worried about Millennials, who aren't buying cars in the numbers the industry would like. A team of grad-student engineers at Clemson University is trying to change that. 

By , Guest blogger

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    The Mazda logo on a sign at the 2013 Pittsburgh Auto Show in Pittsburgh. A group of engineering students at Clemson University have designed a concept car for Mazda aimed at the wants and needs of young adult drivers.
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We've spilled a lot of virtual ink discussing Generation Y (aka Millennials) and their love/hate relationship with cars. Among the findings in recent years:

Understandably, these doom-and-gloom predictions have automakers worried . Some are planning for a future filled with alternative mobility options. Others insist that, no, the kids are all right, just give them time and they'll come around. The latter have occasionally attempted to create cars just for Millennials, with mixed results.

And so, the younguns have taken matters into their own hands. According to Auto News, a team of grad-student engineers at Clemson University recently pulled the wraps off a long-awaited new car, built as a concept for Mazda.

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Dubbed "Deep Orange 3", the vehicle looks like many other concepts at auto shows, right down to the itsy-bitsy, would-never-get-approved side-view mirrors and the lack of door handles. But there is something fairly unique about the car: it's a six-seater.

Apparently, Millennial drivers want to carry around exactly six people -- not five, like you could fit in a sedan, and not seven, which would require an SUV or minivan. They want seats for six. (Related prediction: triple-dating will be a thing in the future.)

To make that happen, they've designed a car that seats three folks up front and three in the back. (What that does for dating, we can't say.) Rather than including a bench up front to accommodate a third person, the team dropped a bucket seat right in the middle of the row.

Inelegant? Maybe. Awkward? Probably so. But remember, people said the same thing about texting when it debuted, and look at that awesome technology now, right Mr. Weiner?

You can see some stills of the Deep Orange 3 in the short clip embedded above. For additional details, you'll have to click to this video, which for reasons we can't explain, isn't embeddable. 

We fully applaud the Clemson team's work, even if it's not yet perfect. How about you? What constructive criticism would you offer? Is the Deep Orange 3 on the mark, or is it another case of The Homer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[h/t John Voelcker]

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