Chrysler product development boss Ridenour: Preparing vehicles for different kinds of crash tests adds cost.
Now that most of the Chrysler group's vehicles will be sold globally, how will the vehicle development process change, especially in terms of safety and emissions standards?
We started actually several years ago. All programs start with a global set of requirements, including (meeting) the different crash tests. Obviously, there is a difference in Europe.
The basic structure of the car is designed to be global and flexible - right-hand drive, left-hand drive and clearly the unique things that are needed for diesel from the standpoint of motor mounts, the unique vibrations of diesels. Then also from noise to make sure that you get this perfectly quiet cabin.
Is there a cost factor?
The different kind of crash tests add (cost). You do reinforcements in different kinds of spots to meet the different kinds of tests.
When you think about it from the very beginning, it is fractionally more complicated. If you try to do it after the fact, it is humongously complicated.
Now that Chrysler is developing vehicles for a global market, are you talking about a 5 percent or maybe 7 percent increase in development costs?
No. It is really not much more from an investment standpoint.
Isn't it more of an issue with a low-end, less profitable vehicle such as the 2007 Dodge Caliber?
You have the flip side. You have the amortization value of higher volume in which to amortize the upfront investment. So, in reality, if it was 5 percent more investment, and you sold 10 percent more cars because of it, you are actually in better overall shape.
Will each vehicle meet the European pedestrian standard?
We are working and looking through that, and, absolutely, it will be included. There are some unique parts (and) styling trade-offs for the European pedestrian (rule) we don't think will resonate with U.S. consumers. So things like fascias and where the fascia contacts leg areas and things like that may be different.
So vehicles sold outside North America may look somewhat different?
Yeah, again trying to keep the same basic styling theme. We aren't intending to try and be a European car in Europe. We want to be an American statement in Europe.
At the same time, the level of equipment, the particular material choices, the brake materials (will be different). Certainly, you get a different balance in driving dynamics (in Europe) that people want, so we will custom-tailor for each individual market those kinds of tunable features.
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