Chrysler today officially revealed its new Airflow Concept at CES 2022 – a name invoking the legendary streamlined Chrysler from the 1930s – promising “Level 3” autonomous driving capabilities, more than 350 miles of range, and a fully battery-electric portfolio by 2028. The only real question left is: will they build it?
Before we get too far down the will “they/won’t they” rabbit hole, let’s talk about the Chrysler Airflow Concept as a car. At first glance, it’s got a crossover-y profile and decent ride height – seemingly a must-have feature in the US car market and putting it right in line with cars like the Volkswagen ID.4, Nissan Ariya, and Ford Mustang Mach-E. It’s safe to assume then, that whatever form the first production battery-electric Chrysler takes when it reaches the market in 2025, it will probably look a lot like the Airflow Concept. At least in profile.
And, frankly, it’s not a bad-looking profile, as far as mainstream SUV/crossovers go. It’s certainly better than the last Chrysler-branded SUV, the Aspen.
Chrysler’s own PR supports the belief that “this is it”, hinting strongly that the Airflow is giving us a peek at Chrysler’s BEV-era design language. “The Chrysler Airflow Concept represents the start of the brand’s journey toward a fully electrified future. It is the result of a thoughtful synthesis of the full arsenal of Stellantis’ connected vehicle technology – inside and out,” said Ralph Gilles, chief design officer, Stellantis. “The design features a decisively elegant aerodynamic exterior and a modern, sophisticated interior that takes the customer on a new level of digital delight.”
Translating from corporate-speak, Chrysler has less to lose, image and market-wise, than Ram, Jeep, or even the Dodge brands in the US, when it comes to ditching internal combustion. Combined with the fact that Chrysler still sees itself as a premium car brand, making them the guinea pig for Stellantis’ first American BEV makes perfect sense.
What about the rest of it?
While it’s a pretty safe bet that the first all-electric Chrysler will look something like this, the official specs on the Airflow Concept are pretty ambitious for a) a car company that has zero track record of doing anything like this, and b) whose CEO said, just a few weeks ago, that they couldn’t build cars like this for a profit.
With that in mind, the more outrageous claims that the car, “integrates leading-edge drive-system technology with intuitive AI and connected vehicle technology that delivers 350- to 400-mile range and fast-charging functionality… (and) STLA AutoDrive to deliver Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities, which will also be upgradable via OTA updates,” should be taken with a grain or two of salt.
If that tech feels like something of a moonshot for Chrysler at the moment, at least the infotainment system seems more credible – and that’s good, because Chrysler’s interiors feel a generation behind the trend today, and the Airflow’s interior looks like a pretty sweet place to spend some time in.
That interior is pitch-perfect for 2022. It still has a steering wheel, but its shape was clearly influenced by the new Model S steering yoke. The floating center display and passenger-facing touchscreens, too, seem thoroughly modern. Maybe even a little “Scandinavian,” as well.
Here’s hoping we get more of the “modern and spacious interior is also accented by a light and calming color palette, evoking an open, airy lounge area”, and less of the, “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” thinking if/when the Airflow comes to market in 2025.