You might be asking yourself whether you have already seen this car. Chances are you have, since it is the very same that debuted at the CES technology show last January. The brand needed something to show at the New York Auto Show and decided to retell the story of its plans. In short, it will go all-electric in 2028 and the Chrysler Airflow Concept is the first step towards that.
Automakers do not have many cars to release all the time and that is normal. However, Chrysler has been in this situation for a long time: the Pacifica minivan arrived in 2017, the 300 sedan came in 2011 and had a facelift in 2015… and there is nothing else to mention. While the Airflow itself is actually interesting, it is not enough to stop us from worrying about the brand’s future.
What is the problem with Chrysler?
In the late 2000s, Fiat’s ownership set Chrysler free of the low-quality cars designed in the DaimlerChrysler era. The thing is, the new plans focused on the rest of the group: they made RAM trucks a division of their own, kept Dodge competitive using its performance flair, and made Jeep a global contender. The Chrysler brand, on the other hand, stayed pretty much unarmed.
Cadillac and Lincoln stood strong by investing in multiple sedans and gradually moving to multiple SUVs. Chrysler, on the other hand, could not do the same mostly due to administrative indecision. Now, Stellantis has decided that its struggling brands must earn their survival and gave them ten years worth of investments to do so. The Airflow concept is supposed to be Chrysler’s cornerstone for that.
What is the Chrysler Airflow Concept?
In short, a concrete expression of what the brand plans to do from now on. While the crossover shape follows market trends, the all-new platform and the minimalistic cabin show that Stellantis is going to invest a lot in connectivity towards convenience and safety. Besides that, if you are a Chrysler enthusiast, you are going to catch some references to the automaker’s memorable moments.
- The concept of modular platform made the K cars thrive and save the company back in the 1980s;
- Short hood and raked windshield are a nod to the cab-forward cars, which shaped car design in the 1990s;
- The thin, horizontal grille picks up the visual identity started by the 200 and the Pacifica in the 2010s;
- The concept’s very name is a charming reference to Chrysler’s past, more specifically the 1930s.
Regarding the technical bits, the roomy cabin has three screens on the dashboard to control functions of communication, dynamics, music, navigation, and more. The car also features fully electric powertrain (one motor on each axle to get all-wheel drive), and is ready for Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities. Stellantis also says it is ready to receive over-the-air upgrades for added functionalities.
Why is the Airflow Concept not enough?
You know how concept cars have become sort of movie trailers? They show almost the entire thing and appear just weeks before its official release. Well, the Airflow honors the past in yet another way: it previews Chrysler’s first dedicated EV, which is scheduled to arrive in 2025 to celebrate the its centennial. It also plans to only sell electric cars by the year 2028 like other Stellantis brands.
Waiting three years for a new model is only acceptable for companies like Toyota, which has many others on sale at different points of their life cycles. One could argue that Stellantis has kept the Lancia division in even worse conditions, since it was restricted to the Ypsilon and the Italian market. However, at least the fancy supermini has managed to keep its sales consistently high despite having received few updates.
That ten-year deadline makes things even more grim for Chrysler. EVs are not mainstream yet, so any new ones will probably struggle for some time before effectively selling well. The brand let its prestige drop for so long that the entire Generation Z has grown up without hearing of it. Five years with new cars on sale may not be enough to make Chrysler competitive enough to earn its continuity.
How could Chrysler address that?
By having products to offer. It is as simple as that. They may be electric or hybrid, they may be rebadged from Stellantis’s European divisions, whatever. Chrysler is still a strong name in North America so, at this point, all it needs is cars to sell. This way, it will have a chance to cut its losses, at least, until the EVs arrive. If I had to pick a temporary lineup for the next few years, I would choose the following:
- Coupé SUV to keep up with trends and be the Grand Cherokee counterpart that Jeep will rightfully never make;
- All-new 300 to preserve the nameplate and have a non-sporty alternative to Charger, Ghibli and Giulia;
- Keep the Pacifica fresh because it has great reviews and no other Stellantis brand could pull off a minivan;
- Bring back Imperial as a high-luxury division, just like Mercedes-Benz has done with Maybach.
Of course, any plan like that would have to be started years ago to be ready these days. The point is that releasing a single concept car and making promises that will only come true three years ago is simply not enough. As someone who appreciates Chrysler’s past work, I believe it deserves more. Especially to get a proper chance to thrive within those ten years and earn its survival.
What is your opinion?
What do you think about Chrysler’s latest plan? Do you think that the Airflow concept is enough for now? Would you rather see it releasing more models in the meantime? Keep reading the articles we publish on AutomoBible. We will be thrilled to write more about the automaker once it takes the next steps in order to stay competitive in a future where the market is dominated by SUVs and electric vehicles.