Auto Tech

Chrysler Portal designed to transport millenials into the future

chrysler portal handout

 (Chrysler)

Chrysler sees a big future for the minivan.

The automaker’s new Portal concept is a battery-powered, semi-autonomous, connected vehicle that it says was designed by millennials for themselves.

It boasts a 250 mile range, and can fill up with 150 miles worth of electricity in 20 minutes at a fast charge station. Its 100 kWh battery pack is integrated into the floor, which helps maximize interior space.

Front and rear sliding doors create large entry portals that inspire the minivan’s name, while its six captain’s chairs have fold-up seat bottoms and are mounted on rails that allow the cabin to be easily reconfigured to accommodate cargo or passengers, as needed.

The driver can be a passenger some of the time thanks to a suite of cameras, radar, Lidar, and ultrasonic sensors, plus high-definition maps augmented by GPS and car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications that enable Level 3 autonomy, which allows the Portal to drive itself on some highways with human supervision. If it doesn’t think the person in the driver’s seat is paying attention, it will pull itself to the side of the road.

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Regardless of who or what is in control, a display on the dashboard constantly provides a 360-degree view of the traffic surrounding the Portal, highlighting any emergency vehicles approaching from all directions.

The Portal was also designed to be upgraded to full Level 5 autonomy when the technology is available, and comes equipped with a steering wheel that can fold up and stow itself when the vehicle takes control. The wheel also hides away when the vehicle is parked.

With its targeted demographic, it’s not much of a surprise that the Portal comes with a built-in selfie camera, along with a communal display where passengers can use their connected devices to share images, video and music, which they can chose to listen to, or not, via a focused sound system that provides each with a personalized audio zone, no headphones required.

Exterior LED lighting elements on the doors can be configured in a variety of colors to indicate when it is in self-driving mode, augment the turn signals, or just dress it up in the parking lot, where passengers can sit back and enjoy a view of the sky through dimmable glass roof panels crisscrossed by a carbon fiber safety structure.

Chrysler hasn’t announced a target date for putting something like the Portal into production, but it recently launched a fleet of fully autonomous Pacifica Hybrid minivans with Waymo that will begin testing on public roads this year.