Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Shows Portal Concept at CES

Plenty of room inside

While other electric car debuts during the past month have highlighted the vehicles’ speed and supercar-like agility, the Chrysler Portal Concept took a more gentile path. The all-electric concept, which provides hints of the styling and technology direction of the next generation of minivan, was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas.

While the Portal was short on performance hyperbole, it was long on technology. Among its features:

  • 250 miles of range on a full charge.
  • Fast charge capability to add 150 miles of range in less than 20 minutes.
  • An in-vehicle wireless network to integrate with mobile devices.
  • Level Three semi-autonomous driving technologies that could be upgraded to Level Four.
  • Technology partners, including Adient (seat supplier), Magneti Marelli, Panasonic Automotive and Samsung Electronics.

Millennial Target

An all-tech interior

The target of the concept is the emerging majority segment of the population—millennials (people born between 1982-2001). Chrysler’s research said those folks wanted a vehicle that is personal, offers value and flexibility, integrates advanced technology and is socially responsible. In Chrysler’s mind that meant a minivan.

The minivan is family transportation and has been a key building block of the modern Chrysler (and its sister Dodge) brand going back beyond the birth of the first millennial.

Chrysler thinks millennials are moving into the life stage where a practical family vehicle might start making sense. The Portal mixes its practicality with some premium features like flexible thin-design seats. Since the Portal is all-electric, it allowed the designers to maximize interior space. That space included up to 10 docking stations that can be used to charge or secure mobile phones or tablets.

The Technology Underneath

Minivan’s future beyond the soccer field

The lithium-ion battery pack underneath the Portal’s floor, rated at 100 kWh, is integrated into the vehicle underbody. That increases structural rigidity as well as aiding handling. The front-mounted charging port allows fast-charging at 350 kW. Power flows to the wheels through a single front-mounting electric motor.

Autonomous technology (Level Three) incorporated the Chrysler Portal includes a variety of sensors (LIDAR/radar/sonar/vision) that monitor conditions outside and inside the vehicle. It builds on currently available tech and adds cloud connectivity and redundant steering and brake actuators, along with a redundant power source. The computer power of the car is also boosted.

Additional technologies in the minivan are:

  • Facial recognition and voice biometrics that recognize the user and can customize individual settings for the driver or passenger, including lighting, music and other audio, favorite destinations, etc.
  • Vehicle-to-infrastructure communications designed to allow the vehicle to know about things such as intersection crash warnings, traffic sign recognition and emergency vehicle approaching.
  • Personal Zoned Audio that keeps the drive aware of surroundings by enhancing sound and directionality in the event of approaching emergency vehicles.
  • Seamless vehicle integration of personal devices, such as phones, tablets, cameras and wearables.
  • Community sharing that enables passengers to share music, images, videos and more.

The Chrysler Portal Concept package presents an early look at where the styling and technology of the next (fifth) generation of Chrysler minivans might be headed.

Michael Coates is the Editor & Publisher of Smarticd and an internationally recognized expert in the field of automotive environmental issues. He has been an automotive editor and writer for more than three decades. His media experience includes Petersen Publishing (now part of the The Enthusiast Network), the Green Car Journal, trade magazines, newspaper and television news reporting. He currently serves on the board of Western Automotive Journalists and has been an organizer of that group’s Future Cars, Future Technology and Silicon Valley Reinvents the Wheel programs. He also serves as Automotive Editor at Innovation & Tech Today magazine.

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