FCA’s Detroit Dodge Viper Assembly Plant to Close Indefinitely

FCA’s Detroit Dodge Viper Assembly Plant to Close Indefinitely

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is abandoning its Conner Avenue Assembly in Detroit, Michigan.

The plant produced Dodge Vipers sporadically for over two decades, but low sales volume eventually led to FCA’s decision to remove the high-performing model from its lineup. In 2016, Dodge only sold 630 Vipers. A final, limited-edition 2017 run sold out in less than a week.

The two-seater doesn’t meet upcoming safety regulations due to its absence of side-curtain airbags. Rather than undergo a costly redesign, FCA chose to let nature take its course and placed the model in hospice care back in 2015. However, the future of the assembly plant and its employees were uncertain at the time.

Conner Assembly houses 87 employees responsible for the Viper and the model’s V10 engine. According to WDIV 4 Detroit, the entirety of the staff will be offered positions at other FCA locations, but the plant will be closed indefinitely. Formerly home to Champion spark plugs, Dodge gained ownership of the factory in 1995 and designated it specifically for Viper production. That lasted until 2010, with the vehicle reentering assembly in 2012.

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The plant also built the retro-styled Plymouth Prowler for the duration of its brief, 11,700-unit lifespan.

Viper production is scheduled to end in August (before the safety regulations take hold in September), at which point the plant will be closed. While the snake could return someday, keeping it as a bespoke low-volume model was never in the cards for FCA’s long-term product strategy. Struggling to reach 700 North American deliveries in the very best of years, Viper volume was perpetually eclipsed by its mainstay domestic rival, the Chevrolet Corvette.

General Motors has annually sold 30,000 or more Vettes in the U.S. since 2014.

A version of this story originally appeared on The Truth About Cars

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