Report: First Chrysler EV Won’t Be the Airflow

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

With the Chrysler Airflow debuting during the CES expo in 2022, practically everyone assumed it would be the brand’s first all-electric model. The concept looked more like a prototype than some fantastical model intended for production decades down the road and even came with a limited spec sheet offering figures that seemed to exist within the confines of reality.

But it’s not the vehicle the brand intends to lead with. Stellantis’ chief design officer, Ralph Gilles, has confirmed that Chrysler’s new CEO, Chris Feuell, wanted something completely different that would differentiate the brand from everything else on the market.

“Chris came at it with her perspective which we really enjoyed," Gilles told MotorTrend. "She wanted a statement that had literally zero to do with anything that you have seen today, even the Airflow concept car. It is evolving in a new direction."

From MotorTrend:

"Airflow was a great exercise to signal again the type of vehicle Chrysler might want to do," Gilles says. As a compelling crossover it was a great starting point. But under Feuell's new direction, the team aimed to beat their own design. The result: it is one of the designs Gilles is most excited about—and that is saying something from the man behind the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT EV muscle car and the Ram Revolution electric pickup truck concepts.
Chrysler's large crossover concept did well at customer clinics in Los Angeles earlier this year. "So, we know we have a hit on our hands," Feuell says. Gilles goes further. "It blew the doors off. That's a good sign. And Chrysler is ripe for that. We've done it before, we've been able to give the brand new, exciting product, so we're pretty stoked about it."

The company still seems to be focused on leading with an all-electric crossover. But it will be using the STLA Large platform intended primarily for electric vehicles, rather than the RU architecture the Airflow was based on. Though it remains likely that plenty of design aspects will carry over, considering how well-received the concept happened to be.

Feuell reportedly asked the vehicle replacing the Airflow to be more modern and boast a tech-forward design. That means adopting and then highlighting the latest features available to the industry. But it doesn’t offer a real sense of what the vehicle might look like. Considering the industry’s current obsession with connectivity, some inclusions could likewise yield mixed opinions.

Not everyone is enamored with all-electric vehicles, touchscreen-based interfaces, and rampant connectivity features that effectively make your automobile a rolling smartphone. In fact, there seems to be a growing segment of the population that’s becoming resentful of “smart features” and designs focused on “mobility” that fail to stress the fundamentals of what makes a good car.

Still, Chrysler wants to be on the bleeding edge of what Stellantis is doing on the North American market — helping to rationalize its continued existence — without becoming a super-premium brand with MSRPs that’ll scare away regular customers. It’s going to be a difficult path. But one that could yield dividends should the brand pull off a successful transition to EVs.

The good news is that Fuell reportedly wants any new tech to be unobtrusive. All systems should be managed with no more than a button press or two. Hopefully, that means there will be a good number of physical controls on the Airflow’s replacement and nothing within the infotainment system that requires you to run through a series of menu screens.

The only concrete information we have on the prospective model is that it will be offered with 400- and 800-volt systems for fast charging. There will also naturally be standard and long-range variants, with the latter allegedly yielding up to 400 miles of driving range between charges. Beyond that, the only other detail the new CEO provided was that it wouldn’t supplant the Chrysler 300 or use its name.

"I don't think it's quite right for this product,” she said. “It could be a great name for something that we bring out in the future. There is so much wonderful history and equity with the name so I wouldn't want to rule it out for potential future use, but not for this one.”

While dealers have already seen the new model, the public isn’t supposed to lay eyes on it until its formal debut sometime in 2024. Chrysler will have a lot riding on it, as that will also be the time when the entire lineup goes away and it’s left with the Pacifica and whatever forthcoming EVs it has on deck.

[Images: Stellantis]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

More by Matt Posky

Join the conversation
3 of 20 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on May 22, 2023

    I like the Airflow concept a lot - oh, well.

    Another problem Chrysler faces: They can't produce a product that belongs under a different Stellantis brand. A small electric truck would be great... but that's for RAM to do, for instance.

    @Matt P: Agreed, everything seems to be riding on this effort at Chrysler.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on May 22, 2023

    I can't standthe UI in the Model 3. Give me a Lucid Air interior over Tesla any day. A tablet in place of a button/knob console and instrumented dash is a deal breaker for me. The Pacifica is a nice blend of buttons and tech. The Bolt looks like a decent compromise also.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on May 22, 2023

      UI is an area where Hyundai/Kia/Genesis are beating Tesla.

  • Analoggrotto Level 50 Trolling at it's finest. Well done.
  • Lorenzo The unspoken killer is that batteries can't be repaired after a fender-bender and the cars are totaled by insurance companies. Very quickly, insurance premiums will be bigger than the the monthly payment, killing all sales. People will be snapping up all the clunkers Tim Healey can find.
  • Lorenzo Massachusetts - with the start/finish line at the tip of Cape Cod.
  • RHD Welcome to TTAH/K, also known as TTAUC (The truth about used cars). There is a hell of a lot of interesting auto news that does not make it to this website.
  • Jkross22 EV makers are hosed. How much bigger is the EV market right now than it already is? Tesla is holding all the cards... existing customer base, no dealers to contend with, largest EV fleet and the only one with a reliable (although more crowded) charging network when you're on the road. They're also the most agile with pricing. I have no idea what BMW, Audi, H/K and Merc are thinking and their sales reflect that. Tesla isn't for me, but I see the appeal. They are the EV for people who really just want a Tesla, which is most EV customers. Rivian and Polestar and Lucid are all in trouble. They'll likely have to be acquired to survive. They probably know it too.