Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Chrysler, the iconic American brand owned by Stellantis, will sell only electric vehicles by 2028, the company announced at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show.

To highlight this seismic shift, the company unveiled its latest concept, the Airflow crossover SUV with a similar profile to the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E. The vehicle unveiled at CES is meant to be a concept, but it looks very close to production-ready. Chrysler says its first EV will go into production in 2025.

Stellantis, the multinational conglomerate formed last year when Fiat Chrysler merged with France’s PSA Group, wants Chrysler to spearhead its electrification strategy. The company, the world’s fourth-largest automaker, announced a comprehensive plan last year to electrify the lineups 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 references a historic Chrysler nameplate, is intended as a taste of things to come. Despite its rear-facing branding, the concept car is indicative of the “future direction” for the nearly 100-year-old auto company, Chrysler CEO Christine Feuell said in a statement.



The Airflow concept comes with four-wheel drive thanks to two 150 kW motors, one in each axle. However, the powertrain could be modified to accommodate more powerful engines in the future, Chrysler says. The company did not provide details on the battery’s size or power capacity, but did estimate a range of 350-400 miles per charge.

The Airflow will be equipped with Stellantis’ “STLA AutoDrive” advanced driver assist system (ADAS), which will enable Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities and over-the-air software updates. (The company recently held an event to promote its new software products, including an operating system called “STLA Brain”.)

Level 3, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, refers to highly automated driving where the driver must still be able to take over the vehicle on demand. Level 4 automation means the car can handle most driving situations on its own, while level 5 is largely theoretical and includes full automation under all conditions.

It’s a risky move for Chrysler to label its driver assistance system as Level 3, given the difficulties other automakers have had in incorporating similar systems into their production vehicles. For example, Audi said its A8 sedan would come with a feature called Traffic Jam Pilot that, when active, would relieve human drivers of the need to pay attention during stop-and-go traffic. But the feature was subject to approval from local authorities and Traffic Jam Pilot remains dormant in most markets around the world.

The Airflow immediately announces itself as an EV with the illuminated Chrysler Wing logo on the grille and across the full width of the light bars on the front and rear of the vehicle – both common features in most modern EVs. Like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Airflow has a long wheelbase and large 22-inch tires for a more low-slung driving style.

Inside, the vehicle is packed with screens: four in the front and two for rear passengers. The large central infotainment screen is flanked by smaller screens for the driver and passenger. The instrument panel screen is set back from the steering wheel, closer to the windshield than the dash, making it almost like a heads-up display. An additional screen is located below the main infotainment screen for HVAC controls and seat adjustments, among other things. And there are two screens on the backrests for the rear passengers.

Chrysler says the user interface will be defined by “personalization”, allowing drivers to connect to their “digital lives” through their car’s screen. It’s unclear exactly what that means, but we can assume that the Airflow comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

When Chrysler finally releases its own EVs in 2025, the market will be flooded with electric vehicles as most of the automaker’s competitors have moved much faster to electrify their lineups. All of Stellantis’ brands are slow to embrace EV technology compared to its main competitors. Dodge plans to release an all-electric muscle car by 2024, while Jeep says there will be electric versions of the Wrangler, Cherokee and Wagoneer, among other models, by 2025.

We’ve gotten hints of Chrysler electrification in the past, with few real results. Before merging with PSA Group, Fiat Chrysler said it would partner with Foxconn to build electric vehicles for Chinese consumers. The Italian-American automaker has also done some due diligence on a number of struggling EV startups in the US in an effort to accelerate its electric ambitions, such as The edge first reported in 2019.

Now that it has gone public with its plans for a full battery-electric lineup, Chrysler will face new headwinds surrounding supply chain issues and the lack of robust charging infrastructure. Its rivals have already outlined their plan of attack and Chrysler will have to develop its own.

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