Chrysler's Halcyon concept is a reminder that the company can be more than just minivans

Chrysler, which turns 100 next year, used to make a variety of models but is now a brand known mostly for its Pacifica small cars. But today, the company is trying to make a bold statement about its future by presenting a concept car that is far from being a minivan.

The Chrysler Halcyon concept is a stunning, high-tech roadster with an electric motor and fully autonomous capabilities. While the automaker has no immediate plans to put it into production, the goal of the Halcyon is to prove that the minivan company does more than just sit back and think about minivans.

Image: © 2024 Stellantis

“We want Chrysler to be ahead of the curve, for sure,” Christine Fewell, Chrysler's chief brand officer, said at a news conference last month. “But we want to bring advanced technology and experiments to real life, not just as a science project.”

Chrysler has said it intends to sell only electric vehicles by the end of 2028, and the Halcyon is supposed to serve as a showcase for how the company will deploy future technologies. But it is not a production-ready vehicle, and lacks many relevant specifications such as battery capacity, range, performance, and more. Think of it like a full-car version of the cockpit display that Chrysler debuted more than a year ago at CES.

Image: © 2024 Stellantis

The Halcyon combines a range of technologies under development at Chrysler's parent company, Stellantis, including the STLA Brain operating system, the STLA AutoDrive driver assistance system, and the STLA SmartCockpit infotainment system. The Halcyon concept is designed to bring all of these products together as one unified system.

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The Halcyon is built on Stellantis' large STLA platform, which is one of four platforms presented during the auto industry conference. EV day In 2021. (There are Small STLA, Medium STLA, Large STLA, and STLA.)

Riding very low to the ground — Chrysler says it will only have about four inches of ground clearance — the concept also features four doors that open outward, like French doors, or as Chrysler calls them, “red carpet style.” The butterfly-hinged canopy on both sides also provides more room to get in and out of this ultra-low riding concept.

Image: © 2024 Stellantis

Image: © 2024 Stellantis

Image: © 2024 Stellantis

Image: © 2024 Stellantis

Chrysler also uses a lot of recycled materials for the interior, including the automaker's wing emblems made from recycled music CDs. Overall, the company says 95 percent of the interior is made of “sustainable” materials.

Naturally, artificial intelligence plays a prominent role in this concept, as does augmented reality and vehicle connectivity. This includes AI voice assistants, predictive navigation, and over-the-air software updates. The Chrysler Halcyon is a car that will know you based on your preferences and can make proactive changes to things like the HVAC system when you get into the car.

Image: © 2024 Stellantis

There are also plenty of visual and audio features designed to make you feel more comfortable by creating a Zen-like environment. When the car is in fully autonomous mode, the steering lever and pedals fold away to provide a more comfortable seating arrangement.

This concept really leans into the idea that one day soon we'll be riding in fully self-driving cars of our own — a theory that has been largely debunked by experts. If we do get autonomous vehicles, they will almost certainly be fleet-owned vehicles deployed for commercial services, such as delivery and robotaxis.

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Image: © 2024 Stellantis

However, Chrysler wants to make sure it's ready for any self-driving future, so it's tricking out Halcyon accordingly. The concept (and potential future Chrysler vehicles) will be equipped with self-driving features, such as “a dimmable glass canopy and a windshield that can be dimmed with the seats positioned back for a unique augmented reality stargazing mode.” looks nice.

At the press conference, Feuell admitted that Chrysler still has work to do before it can offer full autonomy to its customers. “The self-driving functionality is clearly very mature at Level 2 and Level 2+,” she said. “As we get to levels 3 and 4, there is still a bit of development work we need to do to stay out of sight and still meet the safety requirements we need to meet.”

Image: © 2024 Stellantis

Other future and unproven features include “Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer (DWPT) technology to wirelessly recharge the vehicle as it travels, allowing for unlimited range.” The idea is that while driving on roads with inductive charging capability – again, something that can't be found anywhere today – the Halcyon will charge itself. Chrysler says the model will feature an 800-volt lithium-sulfur battery, which it says has a 60 percent lower carbon footprint compared to other electric vehicle batteries.

Halcyon is a fun science project, but the real test will come in 2025, when Chrysler expects to unveil its first electric car. The company has already shown off the Airflow SUV, a near-production prototype that will likely serve as the basis for future electric vehicles.

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Image: © 2024 Stellantis

The company discontinued production of the Chrysler 300 sedan last year, leaving the Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid the only remaining models. It sold about 133,000 pickup trucks last year, making it among Stellantis' lowest-performing brands. It remains to be seen whether this is enough revenue to begin the expensive process of developing a range of fully electric vehicles. But Fewell said the company is well positioned to achieve its goals.

“Look, I always like to get more, faster,” she said. “We have significantly improved the profitability of the brand over the past two years. This helps fund the new product development we will see moving forward.

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