AUBURN HILLS, Michigan – Production of the Dodge Viper supercar could end in 2017, according to information in the proposed contract between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the United Auto Workers union.
When asked to confirm the end of Viper production and the 2017 date, an FCA spokesman told Edmunds: “We have nothing to add,” beyond what’s in the agreement.
The union contract, being put to a vote this week, includes a product plan and reference to the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, where the Viper is built, which indicate that current production will continue into 2017 but that “no future product has been identified beyond the product life cycle.”
Since 1995, the Conner plant on Detroit’s east side, has been used by Chrysler for small-scale production projects, including the Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler from 1997 through 2002 and Viper V10 engines from 2001 through 2010.
Vipers were first built at the company’s Mack Avenue Plant in 1992. Production was moved to Conner Avenue in 1995 and continued there until the model was discontinued in 2010.
When the Viper was revived for the 2013 model year, production started up again at the newly refurbished Conner Avenue facility, where about 80 workers largely hand-assemble the iconic American performance car.
While a reprieve is still possible, with no future plans in place for the plant, and no word of the Viper’s continuation, it seems that FCA US could kill the model two years from now.
Although the Viper has a loyal following, sales have been weak for several years. As previously reported by Edmunds, production had to be reduced in the fall of 2013, and then even stopped for a time in spring 2014.
Although a $15,000 price cut resulted in a temporary surge in sales, the latest FCA data indicate that just 503 Vipers were sold in the U.S. from January through September of 2015, a decrease of 8 percent from the same period the previous year, when only 546 were sold.
Another factor supporting the 645-horsepower Viper’s possible demise is that it has seen few significant updates recently, while Dodge has introduced the formidable 707-hp Challenger and Charger Hellcat models.
As noted by Edmunds, FCA announced that it is doubling production of the 2016 Hellcats to meet high demand from consumers.
And while much of the Viper’s charm lies in its brute force and visceral driving experience, its competitors have stepped up their games in the areas of sophistication and performance.
The latest versions of models like the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and the Jaguar F-Type offer considerable power combined with the greater degree of comfort and electronic technology now desired by many sports car buyers.
Edmunds says: While the Dodge Viper is not dead yet, it does seem as though the American supercar may be on life support.