Chrysler’s CEO Chris Feuell stated that the company is set to contest with Tesla to attract young buyers. It is going after the pioneer of the electric vehicle. The automaker has a rich history in the auto industry, playing a pivotal role as one of the big three American automakers.
After officially forming in 1925, Chryslers low priced Plymouth brand helped grow the automaker into a powerhouse during the recession. However, since then, the company has had its fair share of struggles that have led to an image of instability.
On the edge of bankruptcy in 1980, President Jimmy Carter approved a loan for Chrysler worth nearly $1.5 billion. The bailout stimulated Chrysler as the automaker invested in full-size models, proving to be a success as it paid its loan back seven years early. However, rising gas prices shifted consumer buying habits as people looked for smaller, more efficient options. By the end of 2008, the financial crisis sent shock waves through the global economy, and the big three’s market share had shrunk from 71% in 1998 to around 47%.
The auto industry is under a significant transition, one of the largest the industry has been through, as automakers strive to catch Tesla and solidify their role in the future of transportation with electric vehicles. Despite being the first brand under the Stellantis umbrella to offer a plug-in hybrid, the Chrysler Pacifica, the brand has no full EVs to speak of yet.
In January, Chrysler revealed its plans for an all-electric future, giving us a glimpse into the company’s future with its Airflow crossover concept while vowing to have a full EV lineup by 2028. The Airflow EV concept, according to the automaker, is what “the future looks like to Chrysler,” with a powerful range (up to 400 miles), level 3 autonomous driving capabilities, and “groundbreaking” digital technology. Feuell says, “Everyone’s going after Tesla. But I think Chrysler is the one brand in the portfolio that has the capability to do that, because we’ll be hyper-focused on just a BEV offering, the design themes, and we saw a little bit of it when you saw the Airflow design. It’s very aero and contemporary with thoughtfully appointed technology that helps make the driving experience easier, better, and safer. And I think that we’ve got a real shot at taking on Tesla.” According to The Detroit News, Chrysler’s image as an innovator has faded over the years, but some believe they can get back to their old ways.