Aging auto manufacturer Chrysler is ready to join other US auto competitors in the all-electric vehicle game, proving it this week at CES 2022 with the unveiling of the sleek, white Airflow Concept.
This isn't just a splashy concept designed to influence future models. For Chrysler, which is now part of Stellantis (a 2021 merger of Fiat and Peugeot), it's an EV flag in the ground.
Chrysler said it plans to deliver its first all-electric car to market by 2025 and to move the entirety of the Chrysler lineup to electric by 2028. If that's the case, Chrysler fans can look forward to some exciting technologies.
Even though the Airflow doesn't break any new ground in terms of overall look (it's not CyberTruck wild, for instance), it is packed with most of the features, performance, and intelligence you'd hope for in a next-gen EV.
The all-wheel-drive Airflow Concept is powered by two 150 kW batteries positioned at the front and back of the car. They support fast charging and give the car a range of between 350 and 400 miles.
That's acceptable, though certainly not the kind of limit-pushing numbers you'd expect from a concept car. Sadly, no word on its 0-to-60 mph capabilities.
It has a wide wheelbase, low profile (helps with aerodynamics and EV range), and 22-inch wheels. The chassis is festooned with animated LED lights that scream, "I'm smart and I'm electric!" The design also features a panoramic roof, that's de ri·gueur for modern electric vehicles.
Smarts and screens
Chrysler is packing a lot of smarts and customizability into the Airflow Concept. Inside what it calls the STL Smart Cockpit is thin, pedestal-style seating, and an unusually-shaped steering wheel that sits beside a much larger control screen.
Beside that is yet another screen for your passenger. The system is powered by Chryslers' new AI-powered STLA Brain. Chrysler promises that this system will help extend your digital life from outside the car to in it. Screens, infotainment, and even lighting colors will be adjusted to the passenger's preferences and tastes.
More importantly, though, the new STLA AutoDrive will support Level 3 autonomous driving.
All the STLA systems will accept over-the-air updates, meaning autonomous driving could level up and in-car experiences could change over time with new features and capabilities.
It all sounds and looks exciting but it's also nothing we can't already find in, say, a Tesla Model 3 or the promises of competitors like GM, Ford, and BMW.
For Chrysler, like every other traditional car company, it's a mad scramble to get off fossil fuels and excite customers about an EV future with them.
Chrysler's sales, like those of GM, fell in 2020 and 2021 (blame chip shortages), while Tesla's grew.
Are the Airflow and a more aggressive plan to move to EV before the end of this decade the keys to regaining lost market share and sustaining well into this century? That's anyone's guess but the Chrysler Airflow Concept sure is nice to look at.
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