At CES 2017, an Electric Car Designed by and for Millennials

05 January 2017

Within the next 10 years, one in three drivers will be a Millennial (born between 1982 and 2001). Most will be at a point in their lives when they will begin to start or will have started a family. Seventy-five percent of all children will have a Millennial parent, and there will be four million more children than today.

At the 2017 CES, which opened today in Las Vegas, Fiat Chrysler America (FCA) unveiled the electric-powered Chrysler Portal. It is a concept car designed “by Millennials and for Millennials,” a group the company says “will seek their own version of a family vehicle that is reflective of their personality.”

Technology goodies designed into the Portal include:

  • More than 250 miles of range on a full charge
  • A DC fast charge (350 kW), which can recharge the battery pack in less than 20 minutes, providing 150 miles of range
  • Facial recognition and voice biometrics recognize the user, and are able to customize individual or family settings to provide a driving experience based on preferred features, such as exterior and interior lighting, favorite music, enhanced audio settings, favored destinations and so forth
  • An in-vehicle wireless network integrates with mobile devices such as phones, tablets, cameras and wearables to enable social media sharing among passengers, and allows for internet cloud-based applications
  • A suite of sensing technologies provides an SAE Level Three semi-autonomous driving mode; the vehicle is designed to upgrade to Level Four fully autonomous driving, if desired
  • Vehicle-to-X (V2X) communication enables the vehicle and infrastructure to "talk" to each other, such as intersection crash warning, traffic sign recognition and emergency vehicle approaching
  • Personal Zoned Audio keeps the driver aware of surroundings by enhancing sound and directionality in the event of approaching emergency vehicles

An all-electric vehicle (EV), the Chrysler Portal concept is propelled by a single electric motor driving the front wheels. A lithium-ion battery pack, rated at around 100 kWh, is integrated into the vehicle underbody, increasing structural rigidity and providing a low center of gravity to enhance handling and ride comfort. The integrated charging port, located at the front of the vehicle, uses the industry-accepted Combined Charging System (CCS) plug for energy and communication between the vehicle and charging equipment.
The Chrysler Portal concept is capable of SAE Level Three semi-autonomous operation, and the driver has the option to turn driving control over to the vehicle under certain highway driving situations. The vehicle is equipped with an array of sensor technologies, including lidar/radar/sonar/vision to monitor conditions outside and inside the vehicle. It is engineered to upgrade to higher levels of autonomy as technology progresses if the owner is interested in adding this capability to the vehicle.
The Portal's exterior design features illuminated, portal-shaped side openings (hence the name) with articulating front and rear doors to facilitate loading and unloading of people and cargo. The vehicle is equipped with full-color, changing LED lighting on the front, side portals and rear. The light emitted can have a swiping or animated appearance, and it can be tailored for personal, business or driving settings, such as when the vehicle is parked, locked or unlocked, or in autonomous mode.
The headlamps and tail lamps feature Thin Lens LED (light-emitting diode) technology, with an adaptive driving beam to provide increased safety through improved visibility. A full-length, clear polycarbonate roof panel admits natural light to all occupants.
The interior of the Chrysler Portal concept is designed to offer the driver and passengers what FCA calls a "third space"—an alternative environment between work and home. Up to eight docking stations— located in the instrument panel and seats—can be used for charging and securing mobile phones and tablet devices. Screens can be positioned throughout the interior to engage passengers. All occupants will ride on thin-design seats that fold flat, fold up, and slide fore and aft on a track system embedded in the floor for greater flexibility. The seats can be moved the full length of the vehicle; if needed, they can be removed from the rear of the vehicle. The flat floor sits atop the vehicle’s battery pack.
In its research, FCA discovered that Millennials are seeking practical and functional products that provide both capability and a sense of personal style. They also need affordability and look to own vehicles long term. As a result, they want a vehicle that can be upgraded as their lives change, and they expect seamless integration of technology in and out of the vehicle, including to home devices and other devices.
The Chrysler Portal concept vehicle was created in collaboration with Adient (seating and seat-track mounting system) Magneti Marelli (forward lighting and LED surround system), Panasonic Automotive (Panasonic Cognitive Infotainment Platform, wireless connectivity and audio systems), and Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd. (Gear 360 cameras and Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (AMOLED) screens).

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