The proposed union contract doesn’t give a reason for closing the factory, but the decision is understandable if frustrating. The plant was idled twice last year to reduce production of the Viper to match flagging demand. A $15,000 price cut for the coupe eventually allowed for a sales surge, but that appetite hasn’t continued in 2015. From January through September of this year, the company has only moved 503 of the sports cars, down eight percent. To further spur demand, Dodge has employed a few other tactics like the 1 of 1 program for buyers to personalize their Vipers, and the introduction of the brutally track-focused ACR.
In a world where high-end sports cars are continuing to get friendlier for both their drivers and the environment, the Viper remains a holdout with a big, naturally aspirated V10. Even with the addition of some electronic aids on the latest Vipers, the snake still demands respect from those behind the wheel. Respect is fine, but sales are what matter to FCA – and the harsh reality is that a lack thereof might force the Viper into retirement, whether we like it or not.