Chrysler is selling the viper.
I have trouble sleeping so I get up early and read or watch the news. And a few minutes ago i saw on ABC that Chrysler is selling the Viper line. The high cost of Gasoline and the slow sales were too much for Chrysler to keep the low production Viper?
Viper sales are fine - that's not the issue. It takes resources (money, manpower, engineers, continuing plant investment and operating expense) to support the program, and they'd rather shift those resources to their core high-volume programs where they get a better return on investment.
Retired Viper Plant Manager
It was not that long ago that I heard an announcement that Chrysler had ended development of the Viper and that 2010 (or so) would be the last year the Viper would be built. I'm glad to see they were able to find a buyer for the line.
Here's the article from Detroit News:
Chrysler looks to sell Viper
David Shepardson / The Detroit News
Chrysler LLC is the latest automaker to consider shedding an iconic brand, announcing Wednesday it has hired a financial consultant to advise the company in the possible sale of its Dodge Viper business.
Sales of the two-seat, 600-horsepower sports car, with a price tag that begins at $88,125, represent a small fraction of the automaker's overall business. But if sold, it could help the company in "leveraging its assets," Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli said in a statement. It also would help the Auburn Hills automaker focus on its core business, he said. Chrysler has hired Lazard Ltd. to help with the possible sale.
"We have been approached by third parties who are interested in exploring future possibilities for Viper," Nardelli said. "We have agreed to listen to these parties. We will do so keeping in mind the best interests of those who have shown tremendous support for the vehicle -- including employees, suppliers, dealers and a worldwide group of loyal Viper owners and enthusiasts."
Chrysler, like General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., is working to curtail losses including the sale of assets, trimming of its work force and eliminating some of its vehicles.
Analysts disagreed on how much the automaker could fetch for the Viper, a vehicle that helped cement Chrysler's engineering resurgence in the early 1990s. It was introduced as a concept car at the Detroit auto show in 1989. Rumors have been circulating for months that Chrysler might kill the vehicle, now in its fourth generation.
"Viper is an integral part of this company's heritage. While this is a strategic review, our intent would be to offer strong operational and financial support during any potential transaction, in order to ensure a future for the Viper business and perpetuate the legacy of this great vehicle," Nardelli said.
David Healy, an auto analyst at Burnham Securities, said that Viper could sell for maybe $50 million -- likely "as a hobby for an Indian car manufacturer." He said Chrysler's decision to sell the Viper "could suggest they are hurting for money more than we know."
Like the other domestic automakers, Chrysler is struggling amid shifting consumer demand for smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. The automaker's sales are down 22.8 percent so far this year due in large part to its truck-heavy lineup.
The Viper's possible sale comes in the wake of an announcements by GM and Ford about selling iconic brands. GM is considering shedding the Hummer brand and Ford earlier this year sold its Jaguar and Land Rover brands to Tata Motors Ltd.
"The companies are retreating to their core brands," said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.
"The Viper is viewed by some like Hummer as an anti-environmental vehicle," he said.
The Viper has been "a vehicle of brute force, relatively unsophisticated," Cole said, adding that he didn't think Chrysler would get much for the Viper. "A shiek in Abu Dhabi could probably afford to buy Viper," he said.
Erich Merkle, an auto analyst with Crowe Chizek and Co., also questioned how much Chrysler could get for the Viper brand.
"Probably not a lot," he said.
He said $4-a-gallon gasoline wasn't to blame for Chrysler's decision to consider a sale.
"It's a third car. If you can afford a Viper, you aren't worried about gas prices," he said.
Despite its sportiness and prowess, the Viper never had the status of the Corvette, he said. "It's still a great car but kind of got stale. It never really had the bigger following of the Corvette," he said.
GM sells around 30,000 Corvettes annually; however, Corvette sales are down 16 percent -- to 16,824 -- through July.
Chrysler has sold 682 Vipers through July, a 111 percent increase over the first seven months of 2007. In contrast, Chrysler has sold more than 150,000 Dodge Ram pickups during the same period.
The V-10 Viper is hand-built at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit. Under the UAW labor contract reached last year, the plant, which has 110 workers, is slated to close before the end of 2011.
Chrysler spokesman Todd Goyer said no date has been set for the closing.
The Viper was brought to market by then-Chrysler executive Bob Lutz, now a vice chairman at GM. Chrysler sold its 25,000th Viper in March -- an SRT10 presented by Nardelli to NASCAR driver Kurt Busch at the Detroit plant.
Lutz said in a PBS interview earlier this month that in the early 1990s, people "thought Chrysler was definitely going out of business and incapable of doing a rear-wheel-drive car, because they let all the engineers go, (then) they came out with the 400 horsepower Viper, then the most powerful, most expensive car the country had ever seen," he told Charlie Rose. The Viper gets an average of 16 miles per gallon and has a zero-to-60 time of 3.5 seconds. The vehicle has been featured in movies from Inspector Gadget to Cars.
Ouch. That is brutal, just brutal.
Originally Posted by Eric
A co-worker did a quick paper-napkin estimate of what the Viper line is worth. He came up with less than 200 million. Who knows. Maybe the shiek that bought TVR will buy the Viper?
The sad part is it is an American Icon. It will be gone. The revenue for this car is a drop in the bucket when it comes to the actual cash Chrysler makes.
I think the move is foolish.
My 8 year old son can't name or recognize any other Chrysler other than the Viper and maybe a 300c. If kids don't dream about the cars a company makes, they don't buy them when they get older. That is a hard fact in the USA.
I think this is just a move into oblivion for them.
I hope not.
2001 Sapphire/Silver Viper GTS
2009 Z06 Callaway SC652
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