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FCA unveils Chrysler Portal concept: next-gen family transportation for Millenials; electric, semi-autonomous, connected, flexible

FCA US unveiled the Chrysler Portal concept, an all-electric, semi-autonomous (SAE Level 3) interpretation of the “fifth generation” of family transportation focused toward the millennial generation. (Earlier post.)

Millennials—the demographic cohort following Generation X, and defined as people born between 1982 – 2001—are tech-savvy, environmentally aware and cost-conscious. To balance those needs and to be an integral part of millennials’ lives, the Chrysler designed the Portal concept to maximize interior space with an impressive degree of flexibility between seating and cargo configurations; to enable users to include and expand their social media communities with seamless wireless integration between the vehicle and mobile devices; to take advantage of advances in battery-electric powertrains and the growth of a rapid recharging network; and to deliver these capabilities in a powerful, high-tech form.


The Chrysler Portal concept is backed by significant research on the millennial generation. Millennials have clearly defined that they want a vehicle that will grow with them as they experience life changes. FCA 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.

—Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America

FCA US has been studying the millennial generation for more than 20 years, using ethnographic research to gain insight into current and emerging wants and needs. Millennials have become the largest demographic. In the next 10-plus years, most will be at a point in their life where they will begin to start or will have started a family; 75% of all children will have a millennial parent and there will be 4 million more children than today.

The four modes or generations of family transportation have been defined as station wagons, minivans, SUVs and crossovers; millennials will seek their own version of a family vehicle. Based on internal research, they will want a vehicle that is reflective of their personality, offers value and flexibility, integrates advanced technology and is socially responsible.

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 and other devices.

While millennials are a broad group of consumers at varying life stages, Chrysler designed and engineered the Portal concept with all life stages and lifestyles in mind, including active/adventure, single, married/partnered, those with newborns and older children.

The Chrysler Portal concept explores the possibility of what a family transportation vehicle could look like for the millennial generation as their lifestyles evolve. The flexibility, adaptability and technology features also make it ideal for business and commercial applications, such as ride hailing, car sharing and delivery services.

Third space. Designed from the inside out, the interior of the Chrysler Portal concept offers the driver and passengers a “third space” —an open and serene atmosphere that provides an alternative environment between work and home.

Premium seating is standard for all occupants with thin-design seats that fold flat, fold up and slide fore/aft on a track system for ultimate flexibility. The seats mount to tracks embedded in the floor. This enables the seats to move the full length of the vehicle and, if needed, to be removed easily from the rear of the vehicle.

The battery-electric powertrain contributes to cabin spaciousness with a minimized engine compartment and a low, flat-load floor atop the battery pack that is suited for transporting people and equipment for an active lifestyle.

A clean, simple high-mount instrument panel display features easy-to-use interfaces. Screens can be positioned throughout the interior for passenger engagement. Up to eight docking stations, located in the instrument panel and seats, can be used for charging and securing mobile phones and tablet devices.


Featuring a mono-volume form that “shrink wraps” the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) powertrain and interior packaging, the Portal’s exterior design is anchored by illuminated, portal-shaped side openings with articulating front and rear doors for easy loading and unloading of people and cargo.

Battery-electric. The Chrysler Portal concept is powered by a 100 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, mounted underneath the vehicle floor. The battery pack is contained within the Portal’s 118.2-inch wheelbase. The battery pack and in-floor seat tracks mount to the underbody, which lowers the center of gravity, improving ride and handling performance. Fully charged, the battery pack gives the Portal an estimated driving range of more than 250 miles (402 km).


The Chrysler Portal concept uses an industry-accepted Combined Charge System (CCS) plug to connect to the next generation of 800V, 350-kilowatt DC charging stations. DC Fast Charger adds 150 miles of range to the battery in less than 20 minutes, making stops during long-distance travel a comparable experience to that of today’s gasoline-powered vehicles.

The charge port is concealed behind an access door in the Portal’s front fascia. During charging, the Chrysler winged badge on the front fascia pulses with light to indicate the battery pack’s charge level.

Electricity from the battery pack powers a single electric motor, mounted under the concept’s hood, that drives the front wheels.

Semi-autonomous. 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 Chrysler Portal concept is engineered to upgrade to higher levels of autonomy as technology progresses, and if the owner is interested in adding it to their vehicle.

To operate at Level 3 autonomous mode, the Chrysler Portal concept relies on a suite of sensing technologies, including:

  • Cameras: A combination of short- and long-range cameras to see forward, the sides and rear of the vehicle. The cameras can provide the driver a view of the road ahead and behind, as well as “ground truth” information, such as lane markings and potholes. Also, a camera in the interior monitors the driver.

  • Radar: Using radio waves, detects objects to the front, rear and corners of the vehicle.

  • LiDAR: Using light from pulsed laser beams to illuminate and sense objects ahead of the vehicle.

  • Ultrasonic: Sensors embedded in front and rear bumpers can sense the presence of multiple objects within a short range.

These sensing technologies, in various forms, are in use today in some FCA vehicles, such as radar sensors for Blind-spot Monitoring, radar and cameras for Forward Collision Warning-Plus and adaptive cruise controls, and ultrasonic sensors for ParkSense park assist systems.

In addition, other technologies needed for Level 3 autonomous driving include:

  • Global Positioning System (GPS) connectivity for the vehicle to determine its location Internet/cloud connectivity for real-time traffic, weather and infrastructure information.

  • Redundant steering and brake actuators, and a redundant power source.

  • High-speed computer modules for near range and inertial sensing, high-definition maps and decision making.

The technology in the Chrysler Portal concept enables the driver to turn control over to the vehicle when it is traveling on predetermined sections of a highway, a situation known as “geo-fencing.”

While at Level 3 autonomy, the vehicle maintains speed and course, but the driver must continue to monitor the road and driving environment. A camera mounted on the Portal’s instrument panel uses facial recognition software to monitor the driver.

If the vehicle determines that the driver is not monitoring the road or driving conditions change, it alerts the driver to retake manual control. If the driver does not respond to the alerts, the vehicle will maneuver itself to the side of the road and come to a safe stop.

In anticipation of being upgraded to higher levels of autonomous driving, the Portal concept is equipped with a steering wheel that condenses and retracts into the instrument panel. This opens space in front of the driver and provides a seamless look for the entire instrument panel.

User experience technologies. There are more than 20 available technologies designed to engage, inform and connect the driver and passengers. The Chrysler Portal concept provides an adaptable and upgradeable user experience that anticipates the needs and can evolve with lifestyle changes and technology advancements.

Vehicle-to-X Communication

  • Emergency vehicle awareness: Detects when an emergency vehicle is approaching and uses spatial awareness and 3-D graphics to illustrate to the driver the approaching vehicle’s direction and distance on the vehicle’s high-mount display screen.

  • Facial recognition and voice biometrics: Automatically recognizes and configures the driver and passenger’s preferred vehicle settings. Voice biometrics enables the driver and passengers to use voice commands to unlock and open doors upon approaching the vehicle.

  • Near Detection: When approaching the vehicle, the owner and accompanying family members are automatically detected via facial recognition cameras on the exterior.

  • Far Detection: The vehicle is able to recognize users via their personal mobile devices from up to 30 feet away. Upon approach to the vehicle, preferred settings are automatically configured and ready for use.

Social Communication

  • In-vehicle sharing: The Chrysler Portal concept’s occupants can share music, images, videos and favorite locations with all occupants via a community display screen and other brought-in devices.

  • Community display for group sharing: Positioned in the headliner, the community display is viewable to passengers in the second and third rows. The community display encourages engagement and collaboration by sharing media in a community playlist, coordinating orders at the drive-thru or even taking a selfie to capture a moment. Users are able to bring in and dock their personal devices in the vehicle. Once docked, passengers can swipe music, images or videos from their personal devices onto the community display for all to experience.

  • High-mount display with spatial awareness: The high-mount display features an Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) screen that showcases a 360-degree surround of the outside environment. Placed above the instrument panel, it helps keep all occupants aware of the road ahead. Maintaining visibility of the horizon helps to reduce the possibility of motion sickness while interacting with the 3-D graphics.

  • Group settings: If taking the Chrysler Portal concept on an excursion with family or friends, group settings can be created to enhance the road-trip experience. Predictive intelligence merges preferences from all occupants into community settings to assist in finding destinations, planning routes and playing media everyone can enjoy.

  • Passenger-to-passenger intercom: Tthe passenger-to-passenger intercom system that enables occupants to communicate directly with driver and vice-versa.

  • Interior camera for group photo: Using the Chrysler Portal concept’s interior camera, all passengers can take a group photo that will then automatically sync to personal devices for sharing.

  • Smart home integration: Using internet connectivity, the Chrysler Portal can control smart home devices, such as cameras, exterior and interior lights, and sensors for monitoring the environment and triggering automation.

  • In-vehicle mobile commerce: Users are able to automatically pay for fuel, parking, food, etc. by linking their payment information to the vehicle in a secure manner. There is no need to carry cash or a credit card as the payment can be securely transacted from the vehicle with one confirmation.

  • Intelligent suggestions: Based on the users’ daily habits, traffic, calendar and personal preferences, the vehicle anticipates needs to provide personalized suggestions.

  • Personal zoned audio: Enhanced audio and personal sound zones enable each passenger to enjoy different content without the need for headphones, while reinforcing audio cues for the driver, such as the sound of an ambulance approaching from a particular direction.

  • Natural language voice interaction: Users are able to control vehicle functions by voice command, such as “open door,” “open trunk,” “turn on lights” and “share music with passengers”.

  • Gesture control: Users are able to employ gestures to activate vehicle controls, such as to open doors, pick up a phone call, control volume, control high-mount display, etc.

  • Chrysler Portal Concept Companion App: Users can download an app to a mobile device and have the ability to customize vehicle lighting, control vehicle and home settings, and lock/unlock doors, etc. from any location.

Upgradeable technology

  • Sensors: Upgradable hardware options for technologies, such as sensors and cameras, can add functionality when the technology is needed or .

  • Software: Updatable and adaptable software can keep the vehicle current and relevant depending on the preference of the driver and passenger, and their desire to add on new content.

  • Docking systems: Provide seamless integration of brought-in devices, creating a vehicle ecosystem of modular sensors, displays that grow and advance with technology. Brought-in personal devices, such as phones, tablets, smart lighting, cameras, wearables and home devices, can be docked in a safe and secure manner and be controlled by the driver or front-seat passenger in the center stack.

FCA US worked closely with partners Adient, Magneti Marelli, Panasonic Automotive and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. on the Portal. Their contributions include:

  • Adient – Seating and seat track mounting system

  • Magneti Marelli – Forward lighting and LED surround lighting systems

  • Panasonic Automotive – Panasonic Cognitive Infotainment Platform, wireless connectivity and audio systems

  • Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. – Gear 360 cameras and Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) screens



I am a long ways past being a millennial but I would suggest adding optional all wheel drive and maybe the means to increase the ground clearance on demand. This morning I had to deal with some 6 inches of snow and the neighborhood had not been plowed. I would not have made it to work without 4WD. Also by Thursday, we are supposed to have another 8 to 16 inches of snow. Add some hills and 4WD become a necessity. Increased ground clearance would allow using the vehicle to be used off highway for camping. etc.

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This is the best concept that I have ever seen from Fiat Chrysler. It has most things right apart from lack of ambition with regard to full autonomy driving. When Tesla can make production cars today with everything it takes to go level 5 for autonomous driving then a concept car from any auto maker should not aim for anything less.

Good to see that 350k watt charging (800V tech) is on the development table also. We may see the first BEVs with this capability in 2018 (perhaps Porsche and Lucid). The drawing shows a very compact electric motor and power electronics possibly a result of 800V tech. Tesla will have to respond and come up with something that can match or trump it. One problem with 350k watt charging is that we need both batteries and power electronics that are extremely efficient like over 99% so that the heat buildup during charging does not cause a failure. However, that could be possible by 2018.

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