• Mar 31, 2008
A few blogs back I wrote about how Chrysler is going to combine its three brands and start eliminating overlapping models. The idea is to have Dodge concentrate on trucks and work-utilities, with Chrysler exclusively selling cars, and Jeep offering only SUV-based Jeeps.
It's a bold plan, but a risky one. And while I see the logic in what they're trying to achieve, I don't agree with parts of it. Specifically, I wrote in my blog that no matter what happens, they ought to keep the Dodge Viper. Well, so much for my opinion. The word just leaked out that the Viper is going to get the axe.

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The automotive analysts at Bear Stearns report today that this is part of Chrysler's unrelenting mission to cut costs and get back to profitability. Since the Viper is built in its own stand-alone plant in Detroit, it gives the company the opportunity to close another high-cost factory and get rid of more high-cost labor. It also saves the company from having to invest in a redesign of the Viper, a redesign which was already underway.

Even though the headcount reduction doesn't add up to all that much, and even though the Viper is built in pretty low production, killing the car could save the company several hundred million dollars a year. And Chrysler desperately needs that kind of money.

But the reason I thought they should keep it is that the Viper brings in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in free publicity. It's an iconic car that attracts hard core enthusiasts to the Dodge brand, even if they can't afford it. I have no doubt the Viper helps sell Rams and Durangos as well as Chargers and Avengers.

So the next question becomes: what happens to the Dodge Challenger? The guys at Bear Stearns say that the pony car will stay in the line-up, as will the Charger R/T---at least for the time being. Since they're both built in the same plant as the Chrysler 300 and use the Hemi, there isn't much cost savings in getting rid of them – at least not right away.

They also say that there's a glimmer of hope that the Viper will hang on to complement the other two muscle cars. But with the car market slowing dramatically, and with Chrysler's sales and market share cratering, there's a lot more internal pressure to get rid of the Viper than to keep it.

No doubt this report is going to cause a huge public outcry against killing the car. And I've got to believe the more public and the more vocal it is, the harder it will be for Chrysler to get rid of it. So all you Autoblog readers out there, let 'em know what you think.
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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Although I like the Viper a lot, I can see the rational issue to dump it. The money could be spent on a vehicle that contributes more to the bottom line. As to elimination of the overspread within the company, I think this is a good idea as well. That it, IF they make the right moves to produce cars and trucks that people WANT. This has been their problem forever. Things like having no affordable roadster, or putting a sixbanger in the Prowler and that other whachamacallet with the Jaguar coupe rear end. Make a small roadster with a small six in it to blow the doors of Mazda and Solstice. Make a midsize and fullsize truck with power and good fuel economy. Produce several cars for the masses. Make more rwd's, even it they can't be gas mizers. Make a replacement for the Neon that looks like a car instead of......well...whatever.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Kill it. The Challenger is far more of a realistic dream car. I never once looked at the Viper and said "I gotta have that" whereas I look at the Challenger and say, hmmm that's not half bad.

      Chrysler needs to save cash wherever it can and upgrade it's volume sellers. R.I.P. Viper!
        • 6 Years Ago
        so you're saying that if cash was not an issue, you would take a challenger over a viper???

        wow.just.wow
          • 6 Years Ago
          no at all. what i am saying is that for the price of a viper i'd buy something else whereas for the price a challenger, i'd buy more like to consider it. the viper has never been a halo car like the 'vette
          • 6 Years Ago
          I agree that if I had the cash for a viper I would spend it on something else, but it wouldn't be a corvette. To me the viper is much more exotic and way more desireable compared to a corvette. The corvette is probably a better car but I have never ever longed to have one but have been smitten with Vipers since I saw one when they first came out. I guess it's just my personal preference.

          Cheers. John
      • 6 Years Ago
      So what happens to the Challenger in this new corporate set up?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Killing off low-selling models makes sense. Chrysler needs the kinds of cars that sell in high volume such as the Sebring which is a failure except as a rental car darling--probably because it's cheap.

      The halo effect from Vipers, Challengers, and similar iron means very little compared with creating a REAL competitor to Camry, Accord, and now, the Malibu. Chrysler needs to cut the crap and build cars that most people want. Challengers and Vipers are a waste of resources IMO.

      Dropping the badge-engineered cars is smart as is combining dealers so they sell everything the company makes. If the dealers can offer cars in all popular price classes, there's no reason to badge-engineer to keep marginal dealers happy.

      Does the world really need both a Sebring and an Avenger, or a Charger and a 300? I think not.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I don't see that they need an Avenger and Sebring, but Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger is different. The 300 is more luxury oriented. The Charger goes after the NASCAR types.
      Bob Carroll
      • 6 Years Ago
      VIPER MUST SURVIVE!. Strongly disagree with several of the above posts. Viper is not simply a Halo, but an history making icon that almost single handedly restarted the American performance car industry. Look abroad, Europe now has very strict enviro/conservation controls; hasn't stopped MB, BMW, Ferrari, Aston etc from producing top of the line supercars most of which are soundly trounced by Viper in nearly every comparo (it loses for no cupholders occasionaly). Are any of these cars needed? Real Question, "is the Viper desired?" How about by thousands (maybe millions) around the world! Viper is needed for what it stands for..American power; Check out any newstand and observe Viper gracing cover after cover; Why? Viper sells! Does it make a business case? Well, it was and is, still profitable, and the countless new customers that it has brought to Chrysler cannot be disputed (surveys indicate over 67% of Viper owners bought multiple Chrysler products after introduction to Viper/Chrysler!). Can Chrysler continue to handbuild Vipers? Yes. Can they improve efficiency and cut costs? We'll see. But the bottom line really is that Viper IS the bottom line....a halo icon that breeds passion upon which you can motivate an entire company, if not industry to achieve even greater objectives. What value do you place on that? How about "PRICELESS;" VIPER MUST STAY....
        Josephc465
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Bob Carroll
        As a Viper owner I would hate to see the end of this car. It's not a Corvette but it did restart the horsepower war of the 60's and early 70's Hence your Mustang & Challenger not to mention others. This is a true raw power car with no esp or other computer assisted driving aids. If you can't handel it you will have a problem. This car seperates true drivers from pack. I think it should be included in what ever restructuring they do. They already droped the Plymouth line a few yrs. back. I say keep it!
      • 6 Years Ago
      hey...its all about dollars and cents with cerberus. if it isn't making money, it has to go. and it should. it is money that could be spent giving nardelli, press and lasorda well deserved bonuses. they deserve at least $100 million each for their last six months of fixing chrysler. they need to get this money before they bankrupt the company. if that happens they will only get $50 million each. so for them, KILL THE VIPER!
      • 6 Years Ago
      At the end of that day, this is move makes the most financial sense. They instantly save critical funds, and they refocus on their core products: mainstream cars and trucks. Chrysler cannot exist, much less the Viper, without Joe Schmoe signing on the dotted line for an Avenger or 300. And with stiff competition here and abroad, Chrylser can no longer afford to shoot for mediocrity. While we may lament the demise of the Viper, if Chrysler is successful in reinvorgorating the brand, the Viper will likely return as a more crafted piece....(of course, we'll complain that its loss the 'rawness' of the original...)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Chryslerberus needs to separate the brands better, but it definitely should not be killing the Viper. Dodge should take on the role of producing trucks and SUVs, as well as wagons and coupes. Chrysler should make sedans and an entry-luxury crossover, maybe a convertible. Jeep should make true off road SUVs. And the advertising department should kick everyone in the balls until they keep the viper. I don't care if they take it down to a V8 and apply forced induction, and hell, I don't care if it's a diesel. It should be raw, fast, have enough torque to rip the asphalt from the earth beneath it, and it sure as hell should be built.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Low volume cars come and go. I'm surprised they kept it this long.
      As for the rest of their model slashing efforts, just my opinions...
      Charger- has its place, as an entry level large car. The mistake was not having it at LX launch, adding the Magnum later.
      Avenger- Its a POS, dump it.
      Caliber- Just add 25# of sound deadening.
      Viper- toast.
      Dakota- completely pointless- same cost and fuel econ as the Ram.
      Durango/Aspen- kill one and make the other look like the Aspen.
      300- come out w/ an in-house LWB already.
      Pacifica- Kill it or move it to the LX platform to go toe-to-toe with the Buick.
      Commander- either kill it or make a proper Wagoneer out of it. Jeep is a true heritage/nostalgia brand.
      Grand Cherokee- needs a diet and a new dashboard.
      Compass- Admit your mistakes and just off it already.
      Patriot- get VW diesels to America,
      Liberty/Wrangler- both are fine and could spawn a pick-up worth having.
      Q: Is there any benefit to the 4.7L over a short stroke Hemi w/ MDS?
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Viper isn't an iconic standard for the brand like the Corvette it. I've always looked at the Viper as an old, rich guy's toy.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is ridiculous. The Viper is the best it has ever been right now. Just check out Road and Track, the stock SRT-10 demolished The 911 GT3RS, Gallardo Superleggera, and such on the track. The new ACR was poised to do the same to the new ZR1 and Ferrari Scuderia. As the only truly world class car Chrysler builds the Viper needs to stay. In fact if Chrysler kills the Viper I will never buy another one of their products and I have historically been a Chrysler man to the core.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have no knowledge of marketing, but the idea of a halo car to drive traffic never seemed particularly credible to me. Have there been studies done to show whether this effect is real?
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