Fiat Chrysler Closing Down Dodge Viper Plant In Detroit

Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) is shutting down the plant that built the Dodge Viper by the end of August. FCA’s Conner Assembly Plant in Michigan will close on August 31. In a notice filed with the state of Michigan on June 30, the company said, “The plant closing will be permanent and will involve the entire facility.” The plant has been building the Viper for over 25 years.

The 392,000-square-foot plant was built in 1966 and became part of Chrysler in 1995. The Detroit factory makes small numbers of Dodge Vipers by hand. The plant also made the Prowler, the SRT10 Roadster, and the SRT10 Coupe in the past.

More than 25,400 Vipers were made at the plant between 1992 and 2016. The plant was in continuous operation except for in 2010, when the company temporarily halted production of Vipers. The plant was renovated and reopened in 2012.

The company had announced in 2016 that Viper production would end after the 2017 model-year, putting the factory’s future in jeopardy. Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said the company’s 2015 contract with the United Auto Workers union disclosed that no new product would replace the Viper at the plant after the vehicle was discontinued. Hourly workers at the plant are represented by UAW Local 212.

More than 80 people were responsible for working on the Viper at the Conner facility. The automaker expects to offer new jobs to all affected employees at other locations. The statement from the company said, “No bumping rights will exist.” Bumping rights gives senior employees the option to replace less senior ones when their jobs are eliminated.

For its final year of production, the company offered six special-edition models to commemorate the car’s final year and 25th anniversary. The latest Dodge Viper models boasts 8.4-liter V-10 engines delivering 645 horsepower and 600 foot-pounds of torque. FCA said that all Vipers are now sold out.

The Dodge Viper is being discontinued because the car cannot meet new safety regulations that take effect this September. FCA also grew concerned about the viability of the model after sales didn’t meet expectations of 1,500 per year. Last year, just 630 Vipers were sold.

FCA’s reports show that sales of the Viper fluctuated through the years. The news of the discontinuation of the model led to a brief bump in orders. Viper sales were up 33 percent this year through June to 402 vehicles. The sports car starts at about $90,000.

With the closing of the Conner Assembly Plant, only one FCA assembly plant will remain completely within Detroit borders. FCA also operates the Jefferson North Assembly Plant on the city’s east side. The company declined to elaborate on its future plans for the Conner Avenue facility.

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