Can Chrysler’s electric, connected Portal concept make millennials adopt minivans?

Chrysler’s newest concept aims to prove the minivan doesn’t necessarily have to be a boring, basic form of transportation for soccer moms. Named Portal, the futuristic family hauler will debut in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The Detroit-based company explains it designed the Portal using data gathered over 20 years’ worth of research on the millennial demographic. Penned from the inside out, the model is about as tall and as wide as the Pacifica that is currently found in showrooms, but it’s nearly 20 inches shorter from bumper to bumper. Its modern, cutting-edge styling breaks all ties with Chrysler’s current design language.

LED panels all around the Portal can change color or adopt an animated appearance, allowing users to customize the vehicle’s exterior as they please. A clear roof panel lets natural light permeate the cabin, which is accessed via a pair of sliding doors that create a five-foot-wide opening on either side.

The cabin offers six thin seats mounted on rails neatly integrated into the floor. The system makes it possible to slide the seats around as needed and to remove them entirely when additional cargo space is required. Screens can be moved around the passenger compartment, while up to 10 docking stations built into the instrument panel and the seats keep passengers of all ages connected.

The infotainment system is displayed on a large, almost TV-like touchscreen on the dashboard and a second screen that stretches the entire width of the dashboard replaces the conventional instrument cluster. Facial recognition technology and voice biometrics are used to recognize who is sitting behind the wheel and modify parameters such as the seats’ position, the sound system’s settings, and the mirrors’ angle. It also loads each driver’sc list of contacts and preferred navigation destinations.

Chrysler designed the Portal with autonomous driving in mind. The concept is capable of level three autonomy, which means it still needs someone in the driver’s seat at all times, but it can be upgraded to higher levels as the technology progresses. It boasts an array of lidar, radar, and sonar sensors that paint a digital picture of the van’s surroundings, and it relies on vehicle-to-everything communication technology to exchange information with the infrastructure.

Technical details are vague at best. All we know at this point is that a compact electric motor uses electricity stored in a 100-kWh lithium-ion battery pack to zap the front wheels. The Portal has a total driving range of more than 250 miles and an onboard quick charger aims to make range anxiety an issue of the past by providing up to 150 miles’ worth of electricity in just 20 minutes.

The Chrysler Portal is merely a concept built for the auto show circuit, meaning it’s not headed to production any time soon. However, it signals the company’s intent to finally break into the electric vehicle segment and it previews what the minivan of the future will look like.

Updated 1/3/2017 by Ronan Glon: Added additional pictures.

Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Cars

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.
Cars

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.
Cars

Researchers teach self-driving cars to predict pedestrians’ next moves

University of Michigan researchers are developing a system that teaches self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement. Humans don't always act in their own best self-interest, so autonomous cars will need to practice protective driving.
Cars

Subaru’s latest VIZIV concept car is pumped full of adrenaline

The Subaru VIZIV Adrenaline is the seventh member of the Japanese automaker's family of VIZIV concept cars. It debuts at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, but for now, all we're getting is a shadowy teaser image.
Cars

Audi is advancing the tech that teaches cars to talk to traffic lights

Audi is teaching its cars the language of traffic lights. The company developed technology that tells motorists what speed they should drive at in order to catch as many green lights as possible.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.