Welcome to the 5th Generation of Transportation

Chrysler Portal concept

Family transportation all started with the station wagon. Anyone here remember riding in the “way back” seats of a Ford Granada or Country Squire wagon?

If you were lucky, your parents had the kind of wagon where the “way back” seats faced backward and you could see traffic approaching from behind while everyone else faced forward.

Station wagons were the preferred mode of family transport because they were big, comfortable, and offered plenty of room for people and their stuff. Station wagons were the first generation of family vehicles and were followed by minivans, SUVs, and then crossovers.

FCA thinks it has a direct line to the future and has introduced us to the next generation of family transport: the Portal.

The Chrysler Portal concept hasn’t been classified as a sedan, minivan, SUV, or crossover. Instead, company officials like to call it the “5th generation” of transportation. Like nearly all cars of the future being trotted out as concepts these days, the Portal is a fully electric car capable of at least Level 3 autonomous driving. Three years ago that would have been big news, but today it’s expected technology in a concept.

The feature that could woo young people into buying the Portal is its flexible seating and cargo configurations. The seats in the vehicle are mounted on tracks, which allows them to easily move toward the front or rear of the vehicle or be removed from it entirely.

This implementation of modular seating is critical to the Portal’s potential appeal to the millennial generation, Chrysler says. As Chrysler sees it, a millennial buyer might purchase a Portal with only four seats, but later decide to add additional seats as the family grows. This could save buyers money upfront while allowing them to upgrade their cars when needed.

The name Portal comes from the unique portal-shaped, articulating doors on each side. The doors part in the middle to reveal an entryway that measures just over five feet wide, which is handy for not only ingress and egress, but for loading home improvement supplies or oversized Costco furniture purchases.

Chrysler says,

The large opening provides unfettered access to the interior and the first two rows of seats. The opening is made possible with B-pillars that are integrated into the edges of the doors.

The Portal is a front-wheel drive concept based off the Pacifica platform. It has a 100-killowat-hour lithium-ion battery pack good for about 250 miles, though that could change if the Portal were to reach production. If it does, it’ll likely be around 2020.

Is the Chrysler Portal a kind of vehicle you could see yourself owning?


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