This crystal ball has a new coat of paint.
When the Chrysler brand unveiled its Airflow Concept at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, company officials suggested it offered a hint of what’s coming for the long-struggling brand. More than a hint, it seems, as Carlos Tavares, the CEO of parent company Stellantis, has since confirmed that a version of the all-electric Airflow is working its way through the product pipeline.
But what might that production model look like? At this year’s New York International Auto Show, Chrysler has unveiled what it describes as “an alter-ego version,” the CES model’s all-white paint being redone in Graphite Black, with Cypress Copper accents.
Appropriately named “The Chrysler Airflow Graphite Concept, the latest version of our all-electric concept, represents the many possibilities on our brand’s road to an all-electric future,” said Chris Feuell, Chrysler brand CEO — Stellantis.
New look for an historic model
The name, Airflow, is an appropriate one for a modern battery-electric vehicle, wind-cheating aerodynamics critical to maximizing both range and performance. But it also has deep historic roots for Chrysler. The name was first used in 1934 for a breakthrough model that introduced the basic concept of windswept design to the auto industry.
The latest model to use that name follows current automotive trends, adopting a skateboard-style platform with motors, batteries and other drivetrain components mounted below the load floor. There’s only a small grille below the bumper to feed cooling air to the drivetrain. Above that, the hood descends aggressively, with a narrow “light blade” running across the front end, linking narrow slit headlamps.
The cab-forward shape takes advantage of the fact that there’s no powertrain under the hood, meaning space traditionally devoted to an engine compartment has been repurposed for a roomy, class-above cabin and plenty of cargo space.
The cabin has an elegantly high-tech feel to it, with living room-style seats and video displays just about everywhere you look, both front and back.
“The design features a decisively elegant aerodynamic exterior and a modern, sophisticated interior that takes the customer on a new level of digital delight,” Stellantis design chief Ralph Gilles said during the Airflow’s CES debut this year.
There are numerous screens throughout the Airflow, including the driver’s digital gauge cluster and infotainment system, as well as displays for each passenger. Information can be passed among passengers simply by “swiping” between seats.
Airflow’s “Stellantis Brain” and “SmartCockpit” technologies offer the latest in infotainment systems, as well as Level 3 autonomy that allows the vehicle to be operated hands-free under most conditions. Smartphone-style over-the-air updates can be used to replace software and even add new features to the vehicle.
The New York version of the concept has been influenced by “Project Ingenuity,” explained brand boss Fuell, “an initiative in which we collaborate with customers on our future innovations and services, offering uniquely personalized and delightful customer experiences throughout the purchase, service and ownership journey.”
Visually, this “alter-ego version” adopts a dark exterior paint with Cypress Copper accents meant to give it a more elegant and exclusive look, according to the automaker.
Unfortunately, the New York concept maintains many of the secrets of the CES model.
What’s clear is that the production Chrysler Airflow will be all-electric, marking the start of the brand’s shift away from internal combustion engines. The goal is to be 100% battery electric by 2028.
We do know that the concept makes use of twin 150 kilowatt electric motors, one on each axle. That should mean a maximum output of about 410 horsepower. And it allows for all-wheel drive without a driveshaft hump running through the cabin.
Beyond that, expect it to “deliver 350-to-400-mile range and fast-charging functionality,” Chrysler hinted at CES. Considering where competitors are heading, that would suggest something at or above 100 kilowatt-hours of batteries — and charging times that should drop below 30 minutes, possibly as little as 15, to get an 80% boost using one of the latest high-speed public chargers.