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It turns out that the all-electric car Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was rumored to unveil at the Consumer Electronics Show isn’t going to be a EV Pacifica, but an new concept EV called the Chrysler Portal.
However, FCA’s new concept electric doesn’t show that the company is abandoning its internal combustion predisposition. If anything, it is weighing its options.
After all, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has expressed an uneasiness about EVs from the word go. He’s mentioned Fiat’s 500e exists solelyÂ to comply with California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate and is fearful that EV production places too much power into the hands of parts suppliers, potentiallyÂ crippling FCA’sÂ ability to produce its own powertrain components.
That doesn’t mean the Chrysler Portal isn’t well-thought-out though. Concept vehicles are aspirational and signal where your brand is going, not where it has been. Considering that FCA has sort of been on the tail end of technology, talking about the future is much more positive than discussing the company’s present inability to meet toughening fuel economy standards. However, there are some marginally realisticÂ engineering goals behind the Portal. It may not be the minivan of today but could be the minivan of tomorrowÂ â€” assumingÂ Marchionne follows through on his retirement plans.
“It’s an attempt to change the subject from the fundamental problem of not being in a position to meet the standards,” Dan Luria, an analyst at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Institute, told BloombergÂ after the initial rumorsÂ of FCA’sÂ plans to show an electric vehicleÂ at CES. “This is not a seriously competitive vehicle.”
Although, if Chrysler had theÂ wherewithal to produce the Portal now, it could be. FCA says that the futuristic six-seater would possess a competitive 250 mile all-electric range as it “explores the possibility of what a family transportation vehicle could look like,” with connectivity to personal devices and the cloud.
Floor-mounted battery packs are intended to keep the cabin open and airy while a fast charger is designed to restore 150 miles worth of range in under 20 minutes. Chrysler said the hypothetical Portal would be marketed toward cost-concerned younger buyers without estimating the price range. However, implementing self-driving and EV technology isn’t exactly cheap in today’s market, and no car has demonstrated the ability to effectively drive itself. Of course, FCA didn’t explain how it would implement the autonomous technology anyway.
Unlikely as it may be, this is all technically feasible in the not-so-distant FCA future. Fiat Chrysler could, theoretically, invest heavily intoÂ battery technology and already has an in with Google’s Waymo on the self-driving frontier. It’s speculative to say the Portal will ever reach development in any form, but the company needs to place some serious faith into new tech before it gets swallowed up by economy regulations.
For 2016, U.S. regulators predict FCA’sÂ trucks will only average 25.7 miles per gallon. The average will need to rise to 31.8 mpg in 2020 in order to keep pace with the elevated standard, according to Gopal Duleep, president of H-D Systems, a Washington-based research company. However,Â Fiat Chryslerâ€™s cars will need to reachÂ 41.8 mpg, up from the 31.2 mpg average of today. â€œFCA may be able to get pretty close to meeting the standard at least through 2021,â€™â€™ Duleep said. â€œAfter that, the truck standard really starts to shoot up, and it gets rough for them.â€™â€™
The Chrysler Portal will be unveiled later this afternoon at the 2017 CES kickoff.
via The Truth About Cars http://ift.tt/Jh8LjA January 3, 2017 at 02:51AM