The brand is reborn? The Chrysler Airflow Concept Might Be What We Desperately Need

With last year’s merger that created Stellantis, the Chrysler name disappeared as a corporate entity. And its survival beyond the history books may depend on how well it is received. sleek new crossover concept debuts this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Stellantis is heading into CES 2022 with a nod to the past while projecting into the future: the all-electric Chrysler Airflow concept.

Dubbed the Chrysler Airflow, it taps into the automaker’s once-important past to offer a vision of what its future could be. And an all-electric one, too. A production version, widely expected to hit showrooms by the 2025 model year, would be Chrysler’s first battery-electric vehicle. But the brand confirmed at CES that it plans to go 100% electric by 2028.

“The Chrysler Airflow Concept represents the future direction of the Chrysler brand, offering a preview of the dynamic design, advanced technologies and seamless connectivity that will characterize the all-electric portfolio we expect to achieve by 2028,” said Chris Feuell, Chrysler Brand Manager. Managing Director — Stellantis.

Forward in the past

Launched in 1934, the original Chrysler Airflow was America’s first truly streamlined automobile. Fooling the wind has become even more important today, an essential part of extending the range of a battery electric vehicle.

Chrysler Airflow and Christine Fuell
The Chrysler Airflow represents the future direction of the Chrysler brand, brand boss Christine Feuell said during a presentation at CES.

The airflow that was introduced at CES this year is an updated version of the concept crossover first shown in Las Vegas two years ago. It has a low and wide stance, striking a balance between CUV, wagon and fastback. The front and rear windows are steeply sloped – and linked by an almost all-glass roof – with more subtle sculpting on the hood and body panels.

As has become standard in the battery-electric world, the Airflow will ride on a skateboard-style platform with motors, batteries and other drivetrain components mounted below the load floor. As a result, there is only a small grille under the bumper to supply cooling air to the transmission. Above that, the hood descends aggressively, with a narrow ‘blade of light’ running across the front, connecting narrow slotted headlamps.

A look inside

Rear Chrysler Airflow
The concept features a dynamic design proportion, with a low ride height and a streamlined two-tone roofline that achieves a sleek yet athletic profile.

The layout offers many advantages, starting with a lower center of gravity. It allows the wheels to move closer to the corners. And that results in a much larger interior than Airflow’s footprint would suggest, with a flat load floor.

The cabin has a sleek high-tech look, with lounge-style seating and video screens just about everywhere you look, front and rear.

“The design features a decisively elegant aerodynamic exterior and a modern, sophisticated interior that takes the customer to a new level of digital enjoyment.”

Airflow’s “Stellantis Brain” and “SmartCockpit” offer the latest infotainment systems, as well as Level 3 battery life that allows the vehicle to be used hands-free in most conditions. Smartphone-style over-the-air updates can be used to replace software or add new features.

“The Chrysler Airflow concept is designed as a space to bring people together, both physically and virtually, incorporating the latest technological advancements from Stellantis,” said brand boss Feuell.

Chrysler Airflow Charge
The Chrysler Airflow Concept is designed to achieve a range of 350 to 400 miles on a single charge.

Long range, fast charging

For now, Chrysler offers relatively few details on the Airflow transmission. It uses two 150 kilowatt electric motors, one on each axle. That would mean a maximum potential output of around 410 horsepower. And that allows for all-wheel drive without a driveshaft hump going through the cabin.

Beyond that, expect it to “offer 350-400 miles of range and fast-charging functionality.” Given the direction the competitors are heading, that would suggest something at least 100 kilowatt hours worth of batteries – and charge times that would have to drop below 30 minutes, perhaps as little as 15, to get a boost. inch by 80% using one of the latest high-speed public chargers.

Pricing? Well, that would depend on where Chrysler ultimately chooses to position an Airflow, or a production model based on it. Cadillac’s Lyriq, with a single electric motor, is expected to go on sale later this year at just under $60,000.

Interior Chrysler Airflow
Airflow’s “Stellantis Brain” and “SmartCockpit” offer the latest infotainment systems, along with Level 3 autonomy.

Uncertain production plans

It is still far from certain that the Chrysler Airflow will enter production. Indeed, there are many skeptics willing to bet the brand’s days are numbered. The division is down to two products – and that includes the almost forgotten Chrysler 300 sedan.

But Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has stressed that he has no intention of getting rid of any of the new company’s 14 car brands – at least not yet. And Tavares will be the one showcasing the Chrysler Airflow at a CES event.

For now, the automaker will only say that it plans to introduce its first all-electric model in 2025 – which, in machine parlance, could be anytime in 2024 if that refers to the model year, that which also corresponds to plans for switching to 100% electric. in 2028.

Ironically, while Chrysler may hope the name, Airflow, resonates with potential buyers, it also has to hope the crossover does better than the original model with that name. It hit the market in 1934, long before buyers were ready to accept its distinctive style. It was taken out of production just three years later.

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