Despite being skeptical of hybrid technology at first, major automakers are really starting to dig into the potential of dual-drivetrain vehicles. While Mazda still doesn’t sell a hybrid vehicle, it has joined forces with Clemson University to build the Deep Orange 3 concept car. What makes this concept so cool is its ability to switch between front, rear, and all-wheel drive.
That makes it quite the versatile vehicle, and it’s a damn pretty one too, though I was expecting something a bit more…orange? Still, it just oozes “futuristic”, and the concept hybrid drivetrain approaches driving in a different way. While a turbocharged gas engine powers the front wheels, an electric motor sends power to the rear, and a complex computer system allows the Deep Orange 3 to switch between three driving modes.
Alas, the car does the choosing for you, though I imagine there being something like Eco, Sport, and Winter driving modes to give the car some indication of driver preference. The next logical step to me though is to give the driver full control over the driving mode. What to do some stealthy burnouts? Rear-drive mode. Looking to conquer a snowy hill? All-wheel drive it is.
The Mazda and Clemson Deep Orange 3 concept could indicate the direction the Japanese automaker eventually takes hybrid cars. While its SkyActiv gas engines and formidable diesel drivetrain have gotten a lot of good press and have spurred sales, eventually Mazda is going to have to offer a hybrid to stay competitive.
A sexy hybrid with a turbo car and various driving modes would certainly appeal to Mazda’s “Zoom-zoom” image, and could really bolster a lineup that lacks one of the hottest commodities on the new car market. But that’s just my opinion; is a sporty turbo hybrid the right car for Mazda right now?