Chrysler, which is a confounding brand that is basically a minivan company and also for some reason still makes the 300, said Wednesday that it will have a battery-electric vehicle by 2025. It may or may not look like the Airflow Concept that Chrysler also revealed.
Chrysler did this at CES, an annual digital orgy that is back in Las Vegas this year after being mercifully called off last year because of the pandemic. CES is traditionally a forum for automakers and tech companies to show off vaporware, which the Airflow Concept may or may not be. But it does at least show us what direction Chrysler’s EVs will likely go, which is very much in the vein of the Tesla Model Y and Model 3.
I mean, very much:
Like, a lot:
This was all supposed to happen last year, or maybe did, but none of us can remember back that far. The Airflow has some historical lineage, in that the original Chrysler Airflow is a car from 1934 that was one of the first to take aerodynamics seriously, and Jason actually had an idea about a new Airflow in 2019, but, suffice to say, in the BEV age, aerodynamics are very important, because batteries are so heavy and range is so important.
Chrysler has this to say about the exterior design, without giving any numbers about range or drag coefficient:
The Airflow Concept features a dynamic design proportion, with a low ride height and streamlined, two-tone roof line that achieves an elegant yet athletic profile while increasing EV range. A long wheelbase and wide track, along with large 22-inch wheels and tires, are enhanced visually with Celestial Blue accent colour cladding. The design elements work together to enable a dramatic stance and deliver excellent handling and performance dynamics.
The Airflow’s silent electric ride harmoniously supports the sleek design aesthetic, with the concept’s dramatic expression completed by an Arctic White body colour that conveys a sense of calm and serenity. Up front, the Airflow announces its electric aesthetic with the Chrysler wing logo tied into a cross-car grille/light blade illuminated with crystal LED lighting. A crystal LED taillight runs the full width of the vehicle, accentuating the wide stance. The Airflow Concept features welcome, departure and animated lighting, including a unique aqua that signifies the vehicle is charging. The diffuser shape of the lower rear fascia highlights the aerodynamic, smooth underbody, a key to achieving optimum driving range.
The interior, meanwhile, is all about the screens, an entirely original concept that Chrysler has invented, special to this year’s CES.
The Airflow Concept unifies these advanced technologies, communicating through advanced visualisation and thoughtful interaction. The Airflow Concept user experience employs multi-layered, high-contrast graphics and thoughtful details to provide a clean, sophisticated appearance that is safe, easy to use and easy to understand.
Using a menu-based format, screens throughout the Airflow interior can be personalised, simplified and grouped based on individuals and interests. Information on the screens can be shared with all passengers by swiping. Customisation and personalisation are key, whether driving or acting as a co-pilot.
Each screen is a personalised space to access the digital world via connected entertainment, apps and downloads. Each seat also features a built-in camera, enabling occupants to participate in a group video conference call from the comfort of the Airflow cabin.
Over-the-air (OTA) updates keep Airflow Concept services current and let passengers quickly and easily add new and innovative features. That functionally keeps the vehicle fresh, exciting and capable, enhancing the overall ownership experience.
The car is fine, if still just a concept and years late. Was it thrown together last night by a small army of overworked designers and engineers? No, because automakers always have a deep well of concepts at their disposal, many of which never see the light of day, and Chrysler was already talking about this one last year. But it feels that way, and perhaps that is modern Chrysler’s curse, in that anything it does to try to change the conversation about Chrysler will feel too little too late, the same with Buick. How is the 300 still around, again?