How big is CES? Big enough to convince Chrysler to use the annual electronics showcase to debut one of its first full concept vehicles in almost a decade.
Badged as the Chrysler Portal Concept, the high-tech vehicle not only ushers in an entirely new era for Chrysler, but it also highlights a growing trend in the car world, a shift in focus from “automobiles” to “personal mobility.”
Car companies are realizing that the future of transportation will be driven by millennials, who are often more interested in connective technology than high-revving horsepower, and this vehicle is the latest example.
The Portal’s tech features come to life the second you walk up to it, thanks to a face and voice recognition system that can detect the driver and accompanying family members, then configure individual settings like seating and music.
Feel the wave
Just ask Tim Kuniskis, who heads up Chrysler passenger car brands, including the iconic American muscle nameplate Dodge as well as its SRT brand and the 707-horsepower Hellcat.
“Millennials have clearly defined that they want a long-term vehicle that will grow with them as they experience life changes,” he says. “[Chrysler] is a leader in family transportation and it was essential that we fully explored the idea of what a vehicle could look like for this emerging generation.”
The Chrysler Portal delivers on that idea in the form of a sleek, all-electric concept aimed at appealing to rapidly changing lifestyles—much like our personal digital devices. As Chrysler engineer Ashley Edgar puts it, smart is the new sexy.
Designed around the theme of serving as a “third space” on wheels, the Portal boasts vast array of technology intended to make daily trips seamless.
The Portal’s tech features come to life the second you walk up to the vehicle, thanks to a face and voice recognition system that can detect the driver and accompanying family members, then configure individual settings like seating and music. The seats can be configured multiple ways—and even removed altogether if desired.
The Portal offers up to 10 docking stations, located in the instrument panel and seats, that can be used for charging and securing mobile phones and tablets. In addition, the concept allows passengers to share things like music and photos among one another on their mobile devices as well as other cloud-based info on a shared display.
The Chrysler concept also boasts three semi-autonomous driving modes, with the potential to upgrade to a fully autonomous driving mode. It has a range of more than 250 miles on a full charge, plus what’s known as DC Fast Charge capabilities, a system that recharges the battery pack with 150 miles of range in less than 20 minutes.
Other tech features include a direct passenger-to-passenger intercom system, gesture-activated vehicle controls and a personal zone audio system that enables each passenger to enjoy different content in their respective seating area, without the need for headphones.
BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen are also using CES to unveil concepts poised to drive the future of personal mobility. For example, with the slogan, “We Are Always On,” VW is showcasing its visionary I.D. vehicle, which combines the digitally connected world and an all-electric car with autonomous capabilities and a host of other high-tech features.
So does this mean that those exotic supercars and American muscle vehicles we’ve dreamed of owning will soon fall victim to a wave of all-electric, driverless automobiles? Well, not exactly.
It does, however, suggest that nameplates like Lamborghini and Ferrari may be driven to develop a lot more connectivity features as well, which could spur the development of an autonomous production supercar in the near future. In fact, it’s been reported that there’s already a driverless Lambo in the works.
But don’t worry, you’ll still be able to take over the wheel.