Art Center and Clemson University reimagine the Mini

19 October 2017 | by Karl Smith

Clemson University, along with ArtCenter College of Design and BMW/MINI announced the result of their multi-year collaboration, Deep Orange 7, this week at BMW Zentrum in South Carolina. The Deep Orange program is a partnership between the engineering students at Clemson University and the design expertise of students at Art Center, plus an OEM and Tier1 sponsors. Each year a vehicle is constructed to address a number of design, technical, and cultural issues facing the car of the near future.

This year the project imagines the future of the iconic MINI. An 18-student team developed the fully functional MINI for the year 2025 and beyond. According to the project team “the Deep Orange 7 vehicle was engineered around three primary goals: target the premium US market, maximize the use of interior space, and ensure a fun driving experience.”


The proposed MINI of 2025 has a design centered around openness with a hatch at both front and rear. The front hatch is also the windscreen and covers not only the passenger compartment, but a storage space for special items called the S3 – See/Share/Store. The glazing of this front hatch provides a generous view out of the front of the car, as the IP is reduced to a ‘floating’ panel.


The interior features room for four, and a floating IP with a holographic display called the MINI Face that features customised displays and responds to hand gestures. Easy access to both front and rear storage compartments is in keeping with openness theme of the design

The Deep Orange 7 project is composed of a modular architecture that consists of front, centre, and rear modules that could reduce assembly effort and floor space required for the body-in-white. The three subsystems would allow for greater efficiency in development and assembly of the vehicle.


There are four powertrains proposed for the Deep Orange 7: An internal combustion engine, a plug-in hybrid, an electric with range extender, and a purely battery powered option. All fuel tanks and battery units are modular and can be installed as specified on the assembly line. All options fit into the body-in-white without any specialized modifications.

The Deep Orange project continues into the future with Deep Orange 8 and 9 teams already selected, the themes being a future modular autonomous platform for a future car, and a next-generation rallycross vehicle. We will bring you the results of those projects as they are announced over the next few years.

Deep Orange Website: