Fiat-Chrysler is in the midst of heated negotiations with the United Auto Workers union, with both sides applying pressure to either cut costs or keep jobs. In the end, concessions will be made, and under the current contract proposal being considered by both FCA and the UAW, the Dodge Viper’s Detroit assembly facility would be shuttered, and the supercar retired.
That’s according to a report from AllPar, which discovered the Conner Avenue assembly plant could be closed after 2017, leaving the Viper without a nest. While there’s always a chance another use for the facility could be found, it’s been an open secret that sales of the new Viper have fallen short of expectations, giving FCA just cause to kill it once and for all.
The original Dodge Viper was meant to be a short-term supercar to inject some much-needed enthusiasm into the main Mopar brand after a decade of rebuilding an almost-bankrupt Chrysler. The V10 American supercar was more successful than anybody could have imagined though, and it’s stuck around through four presidencies despite almost becoming another casualty of the 2008 financial crisis.
After missing a few years of production the Viper returned better than ever, but a hefty price tag, a poorly-considered rebranding under the “SRT” sub brand, and serious competition from crosstown rivals hampered sales. A $15,000 price cut helped improve sales, but so far through 2015 just 503 Vipers have been sold in the U.S, and another 106 in Canada, bringing the monthly sales total to just over 60 cars per month. FCA has had to shut down the Viper assembly plant more than once due to overcapacity, which is never a favorable sign.
Viper lovers will lament the loss of this great American supercar, but nostalgia alone is not enough to sustain it in today’s hyper-competitive market. The new Viper needed to be a homerun to succeed, a performance revelation rather than a barely-better competitor to cars like the 2015 Corvette Z06. We’ll be sad to see it go, but we can’t say we’ll be surprised if this news turns out to be true.