Report: First Chrysler EV Won’t Be the Airflow
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."
"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.
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- ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
- ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
- Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
- Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
- ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
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.
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.