Production of the Dodge Viper, one of the most iconic and divisive American supercars, could end as early as 2017, according to a report from Automotive News.
The United Auto Workers union (UAW) is set to vote on a new contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) next week, and included in the agreement is a product roadmap that shows no replacement vehicle for the Viper. More than that, the contract proposes the closing of FCA's Conner Avenue assembly plant in Detroit, where the Vipers have been hand-built since 1995. Without that plant, the Viper's fate is uncertain.
The Viper skirted certain death once before
When you factor in the Viper's depleting year-over-year sales since it was relaunched in 2013, the car's future actually looks grim. (Viper sales were temporarily boosted in 2014 after a $15,000 price cut, but Dodge sold just 760 in all of 2014 and has sold 503 this year.)
The Dodge Viper already skirted what looked like certain death in 2010. Back then the company sold 20 "final editions" of the Viper just months before Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler, showed off a new version of the sports car at a dealer conference. (It was officially reintroduced at the 2012 New York Auto Show). The road since then has been rough.
FCA cut Viper production by one-third in October of 2013 and temporarily suspended it in 2014, which resulted in layoffs. The Viper has always struggled to compete with the other famous American supercar, the Corvette, and things only got harder when Chevrolet bumped the Corvette into the Viper's performance category with the ZR-1 and Z06 models.
FCA may be more willing to completely cut the head off this time around because sluggish sales look even worse when compared to the successful Dodge Charger Hellcat — which is some $20,000 cheaper. FCA is also somewhat moving away from supercars in general; just last week it cut ties with Ferrari when the Italian carmaker filed for an IPO.