Chrysler Pacifica And It's Future At FCA

While some wondered about the wisdom of staying in the shrinking minivan segment, FCA has enjoyed strong sales of its now three-year old Pacifica118,322 in the US alone last year (total includes the PHEV which FCA does not list separately). The Pacifica was first seen at the Detroit auto show in January 2016, with production commencing during the following month. 

Arguably one of the most interesting of any model made by FCA is the Pacifica Hybrid. In spite of its name, this is a PHEV, the electric range of which is around 30 miles maximum. Production commenced (slowly) in November 2016. However, due to an undisclosed reason, FCA did not release any cars to dealers until mid-April 2017.

One of the reasons why this vehicle is so interesting is that it has no direct rivals: neither Toyota nor Honda offers PHEV versions of their Sienna and Odyssey minivans respectively. The Chrysler's engine is a 248hp version of FCA US' 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, linked to a 16kWh lithium ion battery pack. The latter is located under the second row of seats and supplied by LG Chem. The Korean firm makes the packs at a factory in Michigan. The same plant produces battery packs for the Chevrolet Bolt.

Waymo, Alphabet's self driving cars division (formerly Google's autonomous experimental cars division), took delivery of 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids in late 2016, each of which was fitted with AD technology and sent out for testing. In April 2017, FCA told the media that it would begin producing a further 500 vans for Waymo from May 2017. 

There was further news from FCA in June 2018 when it announced that Waymo had ordered yet more Pacifica Hybrids to be used as robo-taxis. The number in question was stated as being "up to 62,000". FCA US and Waymo also announced that they would begin discussions about the use of Waymo self-driving technology, including potentially through licensing, in a FCA-manufactured vehicle available to retail customers.

The 2019 model year Pacifica Hybrid entered the market in June 2018. There were no major changes. A facelift is expected for the 2020 model year and a replacement in CY2023.

Some have claimed that FCA wants to give the Chrysler brand more crossovers and that the Pacifica will be the basis of a large, seven-seat model due in 2021 for the 2022 model year. The Aspen model name would supposedly be revived. It has also been claimed that this model might be closely based on the Jeep Grand Commander, a front- and all-wheel drive model which is built solely in China. If the second rumour becomes fact, then the Aspen would likely be manufactured in the USA.

The Portal, a concept vehicle based on the Pacifica, premiered at the CES in January 2017 and it was also shown at the following week's Detroit auto show. FCA's Sergio Marchionne stated at the latter event that a vehicle inspired by the Portal might make production but there were no other specifics.

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