The current headlines assure us that automakers are “racing” to go electric (woohoo!), and it surely sounds like the race is on at Chrysler. The brand, which currently sells no pure EVs, has announced that it will make the transition to all-electric by 2028—one of the most ambitious timelines yet announced by any automaker.
In numerical terms, this is a footnote to the EVolution. The 2028 target apparently applies only to the Chrysler brand (not to sister brands Ram, Jeep or Dodge). Chrysler sold only 115,000 vehicles in the US in 2021, and just three models—the Pacifica and Town & Country minivans and the 300 sedan—accounted for almost all of those (for comparison, Chevrolet sold 1.5 million). However, the announcement is rich in symbolism—one of the industry’s most Luddish laggards hopes to become totally electrified in six years, a very short time in terms of auto-industry product cycles.
Chrysler used to be something of a whipping boy in these pages—the CEO of the former Fiat Chrysler regularly dissed EVs, and famously asked consumers not to buy them. The company currently makes only one plug-in vehicle, the Pacifica Hybrid minivan (despite the name, it’s a PHEV, and seems to have been selling in respectable numbers).
Can a hidebound bastion of Big Auto really pull off such a turnaround in six years? The skeptic points out that Chrysler has nothing to lose either way—it has gained some favorable press coverage at no cost, and if it fails to meet its target date for electrification (as many automakers have failed in the past), few will notice. The eternal optimist counters that even attempting to meet a six-year deadline is going to require some action in the here and now, and that parent company Stellantis has plenty of resources to help Chrysler electrify (even as its CEO continues to make we-can’t-build-EVs pronouncements).
As Electrek’s Jo Borras points out, Stellantis’s European brands, notably Citroën, are pretty advanced in electrification, and “Chrysler’s product team will do what it has always done best: raid the parts bin.”
Chrysler gave an indication of the direction of its electric strategy at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with the Airflow, a concept crossover. “The Chrysler Airflow Concept represents the start of the brand’s journey toward a fully electrified future,” said Stellantis Chief Design Officer Ralph Gilles. The Airflow “delivers 350- to 400-mile range and fast-charging functionality [and] STLA AutoDrive to deliver Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities, which will also be upgradable via OTA updates.”
Stellantis says all 14 of its vehicle brands will offer battery EVs, which will be built on four dedicated electric platforms. Chrysler Brand CEO Christine Feuell told Reuters that most new Chrysler vehicles will be built on the large EV platform. She didn’t say how much investment the Chrysler brand will receive, but said it will offer its first EV by 2025, and will expand its lineup beyond the 300 sedan and Pacifica minivan. “We are completely transforming the portfolio for Chrysler between 2025 and 2028, and beyond.”
Sources: Chrysler, Reuters, Electrek