By on January 5, 2022

Stellantis has announced plans to shift the Chrysler brand to an all-electric lineup by 2028, presumably because it doesn’t know what else to do with it anymore. Though, considering the make’s long and storied history, the change almost seems fitting.

When the French bought up Fiat Chrysler Automobiles from the Italians in 2021, the namesake brand had already been losing steam under the Germans. But they were adopting the company after years of mismanagement from Americans, who had taken the marque from being arguably the most luxurious and technologically advanced the United States had to one that had to be saved from bankruptcy by government intervention on more than one occasion. Suffice it to say, Chrysler has enjoyed some of the sweetest highs and pathetic lows imaginable. But it always seems to rise from the ashes thanks to some innovative decision that ultimately helps redefine the industry — which is why Stellantis is leading its own EV offensive by reviving the Airflow name.

Introduced by the Chrysler Corporation in 1934, the Airflow represented a technological leap forward for automotive manufacturing by being among the first vehicles to incorporate air resistance in its design. Sadly, the resulting bodywork left the model and its DeSoto twin less-than popular with motorists of the day. But the groundwork had been laid for the industry and the technology-focused nature that defined the Chrysler brand for the next few decades.

Obviously, that couldn’t last forever and the overriding corporate structure found itself hemorrhaging cash throughout the late 1970s. But new, easy to produce and compact designs began emerging (sometimes with motors on loan from Mitsubishi) to cater to the needs of the day. By the 1980s, the business has a rosier outlook and was introducing entirely new and very successful body styles via the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans.

Since then, the manufacturing group has gone through numerous name changes and a host of foreign investors. Some years have been good, while others were exceptionally bad. But the one constant has been the dwindling market share of the standalone Chrysler brand. Its annual sales for the U.S. market went from 641,406 in 2006 (under Daimler-Chrysler) to just 110,285 in 2020 (under FCA). When PSA Group bought the company to form Stellantis, Chrysler was little more than a purveyor of luxury minivans and the classier alternative to Dodge’s Charger thrown in as part of the deal to get ahold of Jeep.

Leadership is now tapping the Chrysler name to spearhead electrification while it decides how to best modernize the rest of its properties. Frankly, I’m less than enthusiastic about Dodge abandoning V8 powertrains for turbocharged V6s and nearly cried when the venerable Caravan was discontinued in 2020. But transitioning Chrysler over to EVs hasn’t gotten my Mopar-embroidered panties in a twist, likely due to its already spartan lineup and prolonged history of rolling with the punches. Besides, if there was ever an automaker that needed some reinvention and deserved a second chance — it’s this one.

While the Airflow has not been confirmed for production, Chrysler CEO Christine Feuell indicated that the concept was a physical acknowledgment of what Stellantis has planned for the brand moving forward. The first official EV on the production docket is an (as of yet) unnamed crossover in 2025, with a planned all-electric minivan and at least one other vehicle taking the stage by 2028.

“When we sought to redefine and revitalize the Chrysler brand, we needed to make sure that we were creating differentiation within the Stellantis portfolio as well as compared to competition,” she told CNBC during a virtual interview held ahead of CES 2022. “We will be adding one new product per year once we launch our first new product … and expanding that lineup between then and 2028.”

“[Technology] is so important with what consumers are looking for in terms of that seamless connectivity and integrating their personal digital life with their mobile digital life,” Feuell continued. “[The goal is to make] that easy and intuitive with the ability to personalize every space within the vehicle regardless of whether it’s a driver or a passenger.”

That presumably means adopting all of the double-edged connectivity features other manufacturers are leaning into. As things currently stand, it’s actually harder for automakers to make money on EVs that lack exceptionally high price tags without sizable government-backed incentives. However, industry trends and government intervention are effectively forcing electrification at an inorganic pace. One solution to this conundrum — made easier by the digitization of automobiles — is to offer subscription-based features, services, and customization using the preeminently embedded internet. We gripe about the related privacy concerns and the potential for disgustingly predatory business tactics all the time. But there remains an opportunity for the industry to make money from it and companies cannot wait to see how their implementation plays out.

For better or worse, the Chrysler Airflow concept also has all the hallmarks of a modern connected EV. The interior is dominated by large screens encompassing the entirety of the dashboard, the grille lights up unnecessarily, and it uses the latest AI-supported software (STLA SmartCockpit) Stellantis has at its disposal.

Visually, the crossover is a conglomerate of the Chrysler Pacifica, Lincoln Corsair, and Tesla Model X — resulting in some handsome, but ultimately derivative, minimalism. We’re hoping the subsequent production model keeps the Airflow name while taking a few liberties with the concept’s bodywork. On the upside, Stellantis has said that both should boast all-electric ranges somewhere between 350 and 400 miles on a single charge.

But this will be a win only if the prospective model can undercut the typically lofty MSRPs associated with luxury EVs without sacrificing comfort or features. For now, leadership has only confirmed that it doesn’t want any of its electrified models straying far from the “sweet spot,” which CEO Feuell identified as between $35,000 and $60,000.

In the interim, we’ve heard plans that Chrysler will end production of the 300 sedan by the end of 2023 — leaving a massive hole in its already svelte lineup. The Airflow (or whatever name they end up using) is assumed to fill the void in the summer of 2024 after the Belvidere plant in Illinois has been retooled. Though this is speculative, with our having no way of determining how much of Stellantis’ $35.5 billion electric vehicle investment will be going toward the project.

[Images: Stellantis]

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43 Comments on “Chrysler Going Electric By 2028, Airflow EV Introduced...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “We will be adding one new product per year once we launch our first new product … and expanding that lineup between then and 2028.”

    Finally, a sane promise from a CEO.

    I like the Airflow, with a few exceptions.
    – Round off the top of the steering wheel.
    – I hope the passenger screen is optional.
    – I hope there is a 200 HP, 2WD version with longer range, rather than just another hi-po EV.
    – I can see the charging cord striking an open driver’s door sometimes.

    As for the ‘sweet spot’ of $35-60k… At first this price range shocked me, but that’s suddenly a factually true statement in today’s market. If you want something cheaper, get a Nissan.

  • avatar
    jmo2

    “ I’m less than enthusiastic about Dodge abandoning V8 powertrains for turbocharged V6s”

    I though they were getting inline sixes?

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      I have heard 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine and hybridized V6s are both in the works. Dodge keeps talking about BEVs however and pretty much refuses to confirm anything other than a new platform by MY 2024.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The biggest problem here is that Chrysler’s basically dead, and while in theory aiming a model at the fattest part of the market makes sense for short term sales success, there are already tons of handsome/generic looking mommymobile CUVs on the market already. Consumers are going to ignore this because they’re ignoring Chrysler…which FCA also did, by the way.

    The last vehicle that saved Chrysler from oblivion was the 2005 300, which succeeded because it was boldly styled (and a good driver to boot). People took notice of it. The company should take a page from its’ own history and do something similar with EVs. How about something outrageous, like a 21st century retro-futuristic land-yacht coupe? Call it “Imperial” or “300.” Make it big, bold and bad. Emphasize its’ performance and tech, not its’ green cred (it’s an EV, so it’s green to begin with). Get it into the hands of celebs and sports stars. Make it something worth ASPIRING to.

    “It won’t sell,” you say, and you’re right, but neither will this. I’d say the goal for Chrysler at this point should be getting consumers to pay attention to it, and this car isn’t going to make that happen.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I agree with this. Cadillac is busy showing us right now how badly a storied brand can founder if it aims only at the heart of the market and doesn’t have a highly visible image product driving the brand.

      Though in this market I think the right product is probably a big truck, not a coupe. EV-ify the Wagoneer and give it a futuristic and aggressive, not staid and blocky, body.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I see what you’re saying, but ask yourself: as a modern consumer, when you hear “Chrysler,” what comes to mind? For me, it’d be the 300. YMMV, but I’d have a tough time associating Chrysler with electro-trucks or SUVs.

        The brand’s basically dead and in need of something bold/glamorous, and trucks/SUVs don’t really fit that mold. And for the record, that argument goes double for Cadillac. At least the Airflow’s an attractive design – the Lyriq isn’t, to be charitable.

        Folks around here are always bemoaning how the bro-hams have gone away. Well, here’s a way to bring them back. I’d do it on a low-volume basis, as a halo car, and let the shine rub off on the more mundane models.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “when you hear “Chrysler,” what comes to mind?”

          Running in the opposite direction.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @28:

            Well, yeah…but tell me the idea of an EV bro-ham doesn’t blow up your skirt.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Freed

            It does not, though for those inclined their Airflow will likely be a PSA designed product and not something atypical of Chrysler as we know it.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “The brand’s basically dead and in need of something bold/glamorous, and trucks/SUVs don’t really fit that mold.”

          I don’t know what your market is like, but in this market, there is no more “glamorous” vehicle at any price than a Range Rover Autobiography with bespoke paint. My view is that any OEM looking to make a statement needs to start with the Autobiography and then make something that puts it in shadow.

          • 0 avatar
            JD-Shifty

            a new range rover is dummy with money. a brand new yukon or suburban is a rich guy who will be rich in 5 years

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Around here the guy in the Autobiography is probably a billionaire who could buy a fleet of ten of them with no impact on his finances.

            A new Yukon is what his accountant drives.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @dal:

            Point taken about Range Rover, but Chrysler exists considerably downmarket from them and has no history building utility vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Freed, your example of the 300 is a good one—at the time, the absolutely hottest thing among the buyers with money was the then-new Bentley Contintental GT. Chrysler copied the spirit, although in a sedan. Everyone said the 300 looked like a Bentley, both the people who loved it and the people who hated it.

            Get them to say that your new Chrysler truck looks like a Range Rover in the same tone. It doesn’t matter that a big SUV is a new thing for Chrysler (with the exception of the regrettable late-2000s Aspen). The market has shifted to trucks, the truckier the better, and a car of any type is just not going to be the hottest thing on the market for the time being.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @dal:

            Again, point taken, but I think Chrysler has zero heritage when it comes to trucks, SUVs or electrics, much less ones that appeal to people with money, and I think just tossing something like that at the market is going to fail. If nothing else, such a vehicle would definitely face in-house competition – let’s not forget that Chryslers share showrooms with Jeeps and Rams, and those brands have the lux SUV/pickup segments covered. If I were their CEO, I’d electrify those before I brought out an electric Chrysler version.

            I just think they need something different. Yes, the market is crazy for trucks, but then again, it can also go crazy sometimes for something completely different, and maybe we need that right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Serpens

      Sounds nice as a dream, but not in reality. For the first time Chrysler actually has defined brand positioning and that doesn’t include a grand luxury coupe that was sell about 5 units a year on the market.

      The brand is to be premium, not luxury. The only true luxury brand in the Stellantis portfolio is Maserati and that’s from Carlos Tavares.

      You don’t need shock and awe to get people to notice the brand, but you do need to be realistic about sales expectations. I gather they’re not expecting complete market domination with their return to competency, but rather aiming to make a comfortable profit. A well done product that is marketed correctly has a chance- and it’s worth noting they’re sticking to the Chrysler stalwarts by not abandoning the large sedan and minivan markets. Those tidbits were buried in a few articles with interviews with the Chrysler CEO.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “… but you do need to be realistic about sales expectations.”

        Agreed, but what is the sales expectation for a nice-looking-but-generic electric CUV from a near-dead brand with zero history of electrics or CUVs? I’d say my expectation is for it not to sell. I mean, if Chrysler had been doing CUVs prior to this, then I think they’d have a shot, but it feels like they’re just tossing this into an increasingly crowded field full of players that are known for making CUVs (and that includes Tesla).

        Chrysler is a brand with heritage, and I think that’s what they need to sell if they intend to go forward. Maybe they sell CUVs down the line, but for now, I’d go with “back to the drawing board.” Bring out something that’s going to get consumers excited and talking, and go from there.

        • 0 avatar
          Serpens

          I think you’re hyper focusing on some supposed need to have a history of making crossovers or electric vehicles. Those are incredibly low bars to cross. Offering a crossover just expands the crowd of people willing to consider the brand. No one outside of sports car brands like Lambo debated whether offering a crossover was a bad idea.

          There is no more “down the line” for Chrysler. They need to give what customers want, which is crossovers. It’s no more crowded than back in the day when sedans ruled the land. And again, they are coming out with an EV minivan and sedan as well. They’ll have plenty of space to leave an imprint on the consumer base with these segments covered.

        • 0 avatar
          la834

          Chrysler has some history with CUVs, via the forgotten DaimlerChrysler-era Pacifica. At least legally, the PT Cruiser was considered a CUV too.

  • avatar
    Jackson the cairn

    Gosh, make the windows bigger and re-release the 1934 Airflow design as an electric.

    Suicide doors, rear wheel covers, exterior spare….

    The grill is probably a bit overstated, but c’mon.

    • 0 avatar
      FAHRVERGNUGEN

      What a neat idea! I’m sure someone more talented than me could draw this up – lifted about 4 inches, eliminate the spare for a run-flat, and have a whole bunch of batteries under the hood. Even the grill isn’t overstated in comparison to the current crop of gaping Predator-like maws.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      One innovation of the Airflow not mentioned was the body was put together with interlocking pieces. It wasn’t quite unibody, but had the structural integrity other cars of the era didn’t.

      BTW – they’re called coach doors. If you want to commit suicide by jumping out of a moving car, you’re much better off with forward-hinged doors.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      …or maybe do an EV restomod on a 300F coupe.

      https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2013/02/26/flying-mile-record-breaking-1960-chrysler-300-f-gt-special-heads-to-auction

      Imagine this with 900 EV hp and a modern suspension. Dammmnnnnnnnn….

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Use the Jeep Wrangler underpinning to do an equivalent of the 1996 Toyota Classic, maybe?

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Jackson, I agree 100%! The first automaker that re-makes its classics as electrics will be hitting it over the fence.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I doubt this but it does highlight one thing: PSA is going to make the Merger of Equals 2.0 work by simply supplanting the US Chrysler products with its own as rebadges. Mercedes as I recall tried to integrate its supply chain and collaborate on some projects (Jeep WK, Crossfire), but at no point did they say: “Cloud car/Sebring gone, we’re going to rebadge an A/B-Klasse, 300 is a rebadged C-Klass etc. I got the feeling Chrysler was still largely managing itself still either because of unforeseen costs of rebadging Mercedes products at Dodge/Chrysler prices and/or UAW/local/US politics. The fact the LH was dusted off for the LX platform and used instead of a Mercedes platform in say CKD kits, is evidence of this IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      Serpens

      I don’t agree with one bit of this post. Mercedes never intended to for Chrysler to simply rebadge their products, the whole point was to access profit downmarket via the Chrysler portfolio. They wanted to a reach in the cheap mainstream market. Chrysler was definitely not managing itself based on the leadership being wiped out at multiple levels and the high degree of control the Germans implemented. You can read all about that on sites like Allpar.

      As for the future, Stellantis has very clearly laid out it’s platform strategy that all of the brands are working from. There are no straight rebadges for Chrysler. Their EVs that are mid-size and above will be coming out the same time as other brands in the Stellantis portfolio that are also using STLA Medium and STLA large platforms.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        If that was the case it was an awful plan and failed miserably.

        “After consistently communicating this as a “merger of equals” for two years, then CEO Jurgen Schrempp was quoted in a Financial Times article saying that this was a mere “PR device” and that Daimler had always intended the deal as an outright acquisition.”

        “By 2001, Chrysler was losing $3 billion annually and key competitors had crushed its U.S. market share by nearly 40 percent.”

        https://www.mapartners.net/insights/what-really-happened-daimler-chrysler

        Chrysler and Fiat had no EV technology, what we are seeing is originally sourced from PSA or is being licensed from elsewhere. How much of each of the former business units is involved I cannot say.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    “When the French bought up Fiat Chrysler Automobiles from the Italians in 2021, the namesake brand had already been losing steam under the Germans.”

    What Germans? Fiat had been running the outfit for a decade by 2021.

    And the French DID NOT buy up FCA. You call yourself an automotive journalist? Good god, man. FCA had to sell off a bunch of its stock to get the company value down to the same as PSA, so that it would be a merger of equals. That was an EU dictate so that the French wouldn’t lord it over the Italians, and vice versa. You don’t even know the basics of the deal! What’s the use of you?

    “But they were adopting the company after years of mismanagement from Americans, who had taken the marque from being arguably the most luxurious and technologically advanced the United States had to one that had to be saved from bankruptcy by government intervention on more than one occasion.”

    I do not know what universe you live in, but this is the biggest load of nonsense I’ve ever read in this supposed journal of the “truth”. Iacocca petitioned Congress for a loan guarantee in 1979, if that’s what you’re talking about. Government intervention? He asked for it, they didn’t offer. And it was Mercedes then Cerberus who caused “Chrysler” to actually go bankrupt in 2008. “The most luxurious blah technological blah the US car induatry had to offer”? What — K-Car New Yorkers?

    This slipshod pull-it-out-of-your-left-ear writing is about the worst I’ve had the displeasure of reading on TTAC. Truth? Not even close. Not even within literary license. Just plain rubbish.

    Shape up or ship out.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You make excellent points and that tidbit on the EU merger rules is extremely interesting which I did not know, but I posit will you be as exact with all published pieces?

      “The most luxurious blah technological blah the US car induatry [sic] had to offer”

      On this comment Chrysler was considered to be technologically advanced when Bob Eaton sold to Daimler. The LH platform had received rave reviews, Chrysler was *the* major player in the minivan segment, and Jeep was very successful by the mid 90s – not to mention the 7.5 billion in cash Chrysler had on hand. Then there is this tidbit:

      “Now here’s what will really blow you away: during the years leading up to the deal in 1998, Chrysler had quietly built the best product development process in the global auto industry. They had reduced their “concept-to-showroom” cycle time from five years to two years resulting in the lowest development costs in the industry, comparatively running at just 2.8 percent of revenues vs. 6 percent at Ford and 8 percent at GM.”

      So as shocking as it sounds to type, Chrysler actually had a lot going for it by the early to mid 90s.

      https://www.mapartners.net/insights/what-really-happened-daimler-chrysler

      • 0 avatar
        MitchConner

        Chrysler was in a good spot in the 90s. Then Kerkorian made a run at a hostile takeover with Iacocca as an investor — which alerted the Krauts to close a deal by offering Eaton $100M personally to sell out. Thing is, all the good designers and product development people who built the company up before Eaton showed up had already left — and Schrempp didn’t know it. Sucker.

        Iacocca really screwed up late in his tenure at Chrysler. Bought Lamborghini and Gulfstream which blew their cash reserves. Brought in Eaton over Lutz out of spite — with Eaton turning out to be one of the worst auto industry CEOs of all time. Company never recovered. Daimler treated it like crap. Cerberus beat it like a red headed step child. Sergio looted it to fund absolute garbage like Alfa — although he gets credit for allowing great stuff like the Helllcats to be built.

        I hope Tavares brings the Chrysler brand back while enhancing Dodge. The Airflow is an interesting first step. Curious as to what the retro Dodge EVs will look like.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    It’s curious to me that Chrysler’s history from 40 years ago and 25 years ago is considered relevant today by some here.

    I understand the historical connections, but the fact that Stellantis is investing in the brand at all tells me that the Good/Bad Old Days are being put behind them.

    It’s intended to be a new brand, just without a new name. Arguments about K-cars, minivans, Mercedes, Cerberus, and FCA just don’t matter anymore.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    Good to see that Stelantis is actually going to retain the Chrysler marque. I hope.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “if there was ever an automaker that needed some reinvention and deserved a second chance — it’s this one”

    Whoa, hold up a second – a blanket statement like this is going to need some justification.

    (Or at least a QOTD if we still did those which I suppose we don’t and by we I mean you and by you I mean the collective you but not Soviet style collective)

  • avatar
    watersketch

    What about an EV minivan?

    Chrysler is still close to owning the minivan space. Nobody has a mini EV van unless you count the Transit. The PHEV Pacifica is not great from the owners I know.

    If you want to be cute you can call it the minEVan.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “The PHEV Pacifica is not great from the owners I know.”

      So VoA kwality will show it up?

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Watersketch, you are right on the money. A minivan that recharges to 100% overnight and never needs gas, is quiet, spacious and hopefully has some inspired styling would be an excellent family vehicle.
      Its success would be entirely based on getting suburban moms with fancy fingernails, highlighted hair and oversized eyelashes to think it’s cool.

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