Ralph Gilles carries a torch for the minivan.
Despite the dominance of wagons in the market, the Canadian-born chief designer for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) believes the minivan will become increasingly relevant to millennial buyers, who out-number baby boomers and present a huge potential market.
“Millennials, the oldest ones, are turning into their mid-30s right now and starting to get into family formation,” Gilles said in an interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., in January.
“We consider ourselves experts in minivans and family-type vehicles. So this is trying to take that idea, put it over an electric platform, shrink it down, make it as efficient as possible size-wise, with a cavernous interior.”
Portal is the result of interviews with millennial-age staff within FCA and its suppliers, and out-side research, Gilles said. It offers occupants a “third space” besides home and work that can be a social as well as a transportation hub.
Gilles has been showing the concept, first at CES in Las Vegas in January, then in Detroit.