Portal, Fiat-Chrysler’s Millennial-Only Concept Car

Portal, Fiat-Chrysler’s Millennial-Only Concept Car

With laser-focused tunnel vision, Fiat Chrysler announced their new concept car Portal.  This car was designed by Millennials, for Millennials and was of course presented to the throngs of press by Millennials because who purchases anything except for Millennials?  

Here are my top issues with Fiat-Chrysler’s Clunky Debut:

  1. Millennially hobbled - The epic short-sightedness of the Millennial-Only strategy is something that many manufacturers and marketers are leaning on today and it ignores good marketing and design principles by having to explain who this product is for.
  2. Generational marketing and design - There is no doubt that things change by age and stage of life.  Toys are typically for children who have time to play with them. You must be at least 16 to drive a car. Eyesight and Motor Control can be an issue after 60 and beyond.  A good designer will take this into account.  By saying that a product is FOR an age band and all of the touted features are focused on perceived preferences rather than needs of an age and stage of consumer is shooting yourself in the foot.  Who doesn’t want more leg and headroom? Perhaps short people, but height is not typically generational. The bottom line is that marketing to a generation exclusively is lazy and in the case of car manufacturers, stupid. This is tantamount to marketing by horoscope where your date of birth is your sole differentiation. Perhaps their next car will be designed by and for Sagittarians and Gemini.
  3. Oh no you didn’t - If we must talk about Millennials there is nothing more Un-Millennial than telling a Millennial what on earth they should be doing, liking or buying.  Discovery is key, not being beaten into submission. 
  4. Old world company in a new age - Attention Automotive OEM’s: Wishing to keep individuals purchasing cars will not make it so. The ownership models are changing and evolving.  Cars cost a lot of money.  And if you live in a densely populated area, you are very likely to not need to own one. Guess which group will likely be the first to cash in on these innovations? I’ll give you a hint, it starts with an “M”….
  5. Where was the Waymo? - Ok, so you have delivered vehicles to one of the most powerful and innovative companies on the planet as a part of their autonomous vehicle solution.  They seem to be the company racing the fastest (albeit at slow mph) towards Level 5 autonomy. You are at CES and you don’t even mention this? 


The worst part of this is that I actually liked the car. The dash is very cool looking and not in a “trying to be cool” way.  Steering wheel retraction for Level 5 autonomy, modular seating configurations, jewel toned changeable lighting schemes (decor vs. illumination), gorgeously massive skylight, adapts to changing needs, etc… So scratch that.  I LOVED this car.  But alas,  this car is not for me as I am sadly not a Millennial- you know one of those people who only listens to Nickelback (yes - this was actually stated in their presentation). 

This debut was so Millennially focused that it felt more like a Saturday Night Live skit. I love SNL. I love the Fiat-Chrysler Portal and hope that they fast track it to production.  But for the sake of the vehicle and our sanity, I hope that they are done with the M-word. 

Checkout the M Word presentation here:



Why you should care about LA Automobility 2016

The Los Angeles Auto Show is one of the dozen premier International Auto Shows in the world and likely the best in the US. Leading up to this nearly 110-year old event are Press Days where members of the media can see the latest and greatest for the upcoming model year unveiled before the public descends on the Convention Center. 

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images News / Getty Images

For the past three years, there has been a small conference preceding the Car Show — Connected Car Expo. This has served to showcase the cool new “internet-y” things that late model cars can do. Just weeks prior to the fourth annual event, the organizing committee made the wise decision to merge the Press Days and the Connected Car Expo into a new lead-up event entitled Automobility LA. This three-day event offered sessions on various aspects of the future of mobility — sharing, electric vehicles, artificial intelligence, navigation, and more. In addition, old and new automotive luminaries shared their company’s vision for the future.

So why should you care about LA Automobility 2016? This marks the beginning of the seemingly arranged marriage of the old and new automotive worlds. The Auto Show is still an old guard event where horsepower and trim are featured more than electric or autonomous capabilities. Auto-dealers own the walkways and are clicking away when Kareem, Worthy and “The Great One” make their appearances with the latest models. The gleaming new cars are dusted by the small army of keepers who slip in before and after the media to maintain the mirror-like shine on every hood. And yes, there are a bevvy of (thankfully not just pretty faced) “car girls” perfectly coiffed and outfitted to showcase the stars of this show.

And for the new guard, LA Automobility was a chance to show off what they are doing to move us forward. Among them are the dreamers, the hackers, the geeks and those who might not know a rumbleseat from a Rally Sport. They are gathered here to cheer each other on, or perhaps drag race in the pursuit of the optimization of human mobility which when fully realized will mean lives improved, lives saved and a better planet.

Finding opportunities for these disparate groups to come together, to inspire each other and get to the future faster is a good thing.

Coverage and analysis of LA Automobility Sessions to follow.

Ford’s Journey to the Future — as told by Mark Fields