DETROIT - Eric Ridenour is scouring the Chrysler group's existing and future products to eke out fuel-efficiency gains, even small ones.
"We are very much focused on improving the fuel efficiency of all of our vehicles and have instituted a rigorous program," says Ridenour, executive vice president of product development. For example, Ridenour says the company's engineers have reduced the amperage needed to power a rear-window defroster.
"Over the last six months to a year, (the company) has been working on efficiencies and losses, whether the rolling resistance on tires, brake drag or parasitic losses in pumps," Ridenour says. "How do we get a lower percent here and half a percent there and overall gain fuel efficiency for a vehicle."
Fuel economy gains boost customer satisfaction, he says. "Every customer will tell you that fuel economy is important as they make purchase considerations," Ridenour says.
"Even customers buying our highest horsepower products - SRTs - will tell us they would like to get better fuel economy," he says.
Strong demand for the Hemi V-8 engine is not undermining the company's ability to meet corporate average fuel economy standards, Ridenour says: "At this point, we don't have any issues because we have had in place (fuel-efficiency) improvement plans on all of our vehicles."