Chrysler presents its all-electric future with the Airflow concept SUV
Chrysler, the iconic U.S. brand owned by Stellantis, will only sell electric vehicles by 2028, the company said at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show.
To underline this seismic shift, the company unveiled its latest concept, the Airflow crossover SUV with a profile similar to that of the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E. The vehicle unveiled at CES is only supposed to be a concept, but it looks very close to being production-ready. Chrysler says its first EV will start production in 2025.
Stellantis, the multinational agglomeration that formed last year when Fiat Chrysler merged with French group PSA, intends to make Chrysler the spearhead of its electrification strategy. The company, which is the world’s fourth-largest automaker, announced a comprehensive plan last year to electrify the ranges of most of its brands, including EV versions of the Dodge Ram 1500 and an electric muscle car, as well as several Jeep models. .
The Airflow, which alludes to a historic Chrysler nameplate, is meant to serve as a preview of what’s to come. Despite its retrograde branding, the concept car is an indication of the âfuture directionâ for the nearly 100-year-old automaker, Christine Feuell, CEO of Chrysler, said in a statement.
The Airflow concept has all-wheel drive thanks to two 150 kW motors, one in each axle. However, the transmission can be tuned to accommodate more powerful engines in the future, Chrysler explains. The company didn’t provide details on the size or power capacity of the battery, but it did estimate a range of 350 to 400 miles per charge.
The Airflow will be equipped with Stellantis’ âSTLA AutoDriveâ Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), which enables Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities and over-the-air software updates. (The company recently hosted an event to showcase its new software products, including an operating system called âSTLA Brain.â)
Level 3, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, refers to highly automated driving where the driver must always be able to pick up the vehicle on demand. Level 4 automation means the car is able to handle most driving situations on its own, while level 5 is largely moot and covers full automation in all conditions.
It is a risky decision for Chrysler to qualify its driver assistance system Level 3, given the problems faced by other automakers trying to include similar systems in their production vehicles. Audi, for example, has said that its A8 sedan will have a feature called Traffic Jam Pilot which, when active, relieves human drivers of the need to be careful during stops and starts. But the functionality was subject to the approval of the local authorities., and Traffic Jam Pilot remains inactive in most markets around the world.
The Airflow immediately announces itself as an electric vehicle with the Chrysler Wing logo illuminated on the grille and full-width light bars on the front and rear of the vehicle, two features common to most modern electric vehicles. Much like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Airflow will have a long wheelbase and large 22-inch tires for a lower driving style.
Inside, the vehicle is crammed with screens: four in the front and two for the rear passengers. The large central infotainment screen is flanked by smaller screens for the driver and passenger. The instrument cluster display is set back from the steering wheel, closer to the windshield than the dashboard, making it almost look like a heads-up display. An additional screen sits below the main infotainment screen for HVAC controls and seat adjustments, among other features. And there are two screens on the seat backs for the rear passengers.
Chrysler says the user interface will be defined by âpersonalization,â allowing drivers to connect to their âdigital lifeâ through the display of their cars. It’s unclear exactly what this means, but we can assume that the Airflow will ship with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto wirelessly.
When it finally produces its own EVs in 2025, Chrysler will find the market flooded with EVs as most of the automaker’s competitors have moved much faster to electrify their lines. All of Stellantis’ brands have been slow to adopt EV technology compared to their main competitors. Dodge plans to launch a fully electric muscle car in 2024, while Jeep says there will be electric versions of the Wrangler, Cherokee and Wagoneer, in addition to other models, by 2025.
We’ve had clues about electrification from Chrysler in the past, with little in the real world. Before merging with the PSA group, Fiat Chrysler announced that it would partner with Foxconn to build electric vehicles for Chinese consumers. The Italian-American automaker has also done due diligence on a number of struggling EV startups in the United States in a bid to accelerate its electric ambitions, such as The edge first reported in 2019.
Now that its plans for a full line of electric batteries are made public, Chrysler will face new headwinds related to supply chain issues and a lack of a robust charging infrastructure. Its rivals have already sketched out their plan of attack, and Chrysler will have to develop its own.