The car, named Deep Orange 9, is the result of two years of work for a 19-student team in the university’s International Centre for Automotive Research, or CU-ICAR.

Dubbed a next-generation rallycross car, Clemson says the project “disrupts market perceptions of energy-efficient vehicles by showing they can meet extreme performance demands in a safe, clean way,” and is a response to every-tightening fuel efficiency standards and the millennial generation’s “interest in vehicles that are safe, clean and exciting to drive.”

ICAR was issued a challenge by Honda R&D Americas (which sponsored the project) to create a car suited to rallycross, a style of sprint racing that involves jumps, drifting and frequent car-to-car contact on a closed-loop track.

As far as we can tell, the idea to go hybrid came from the students, who came up with a design that uses 30 per cent less fuel than a typical rallycross car, but nonetheless can accelerate from 0-60 mph in two seconds, which Clemson says is competitive with existing rallycross racers.

Like many hybrids, Deep Orange 9 features regenerative braking to direct electricity back to the battery, but the Clemson kids put a twist on that with a rear-wheel steering system that lets the car pull off the dramatic drifts characteristic of rallycross, but without the need to lock up the rear wheels. That, says ICAR, allows for faster cornering and better maneuverability and allows the hybrid system to recover more energy.

(Via Clemson University)