Hidden behind its don't-call-me-a-minivan form, the Chrysler Portal concept unveiled this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas shines as a beacon of hope for an automaker, and a division in particular, that has idly watched rivals pass it by.
At its core, the Portal is an electric minivan cloaked in heady millenial-oriented marketing. Look beyond the pandering to millenials that's so en vogue right now and there are lots of good ideas that could make their way into a production vehicle.
Four sliding doors: Chrysler says the Portal is something of a living space with wheels designed by millenials. When you let the generation least interested in driving take over design duty, they'll create a minivan since that's what the Portal really is. It's slightly smaller than the Chrysler Pacifica, but the Portal's—well, portals—feature doors that slide open to reveal a flat dashboard topped with a wide screen to display all sorts of driving information.
A ribbon of technology across the dash: That futuristic infotainment system comes courtesy of Panasonic. Highlights include a security system that can recognize a user's face and his or her voice biometrics. Not only can that allow for access to the vehicle without a key, the system also tailors interior mood lighting and audio/navigation preferences to the driver.
Interior flexibility: Its seats are mounted on a track system that allows them to move from front to rear—or even out the back hatch. Those rails are mounted to a flat floor that sits just above the Portal's battery pack. Although Chrysler has been light on specifics, the company said that a 350 kW fast charger can supply 150 miles of range in just 20 minutes.
Like just about any concept car shown these days, the Portal boasts a semi-autonomous driving mode that takes advantage of LIDAR, radar, sonar, and camera-based navigational aids. Uniquely, Chrysler says that it has designed the Portal to be upgradeable.
Sure, it's not bound for a Chrysler dealer any time soon, but the Portal is something of a door into the future for the struggling Chrysler division as it seeks to be more relevant to younger buyers. Look for some of its interior flexibility, its high-tech display, and its quick-charging capabilities to make their way onto the market fairly soon.