Chrysler readies Detroit plant for new Viper; output is a year off
DETROIT -- Chrysler Group will resume production of the Viper, its high-performance sports car, late next year after a two-year hiatus.
The redesigned 2013 model will be rebadged as the SRT Viper, shedding its former Dodge name. Ralph Gilles, former CEO of the Dodge brand, now heads Chrysler's SRT high-performance unit. The car is scheduled to be introduced at the New York auto show in April.
Chrysler announced last week that the first of 150 hourly and salaried employees had returned to reopen the Conner Avenue Assembly plant in Detroit, where the Viper will again be built. Each Viper is built by small teams of workers at individual stations, not on an assembly line.
Chrysler said few modifications to the plant are needed to restart production. Workers will be trained to implement parent Fiat's manufacturing system, which Chrysler plants are adopting.
The plant was idled in July 2010 when production of the last version of the Dodge Viper ended. Vipers were assembled at the Conner Avenue plant from 1995 to 2010 at a rate of about 12 per day. A total of 22,070 Vipers were produced there over the 15-year run.
Details about the 2013 SRT Viper, such as the engine, haven't been released. The old Viper had a V-10.
The new Viper is expected to incorporate technology from Fiat, and dealers have said a prototype shown last year had Italian styling cues. One Chrysler source said the car is built on a newly developed platform.
The Viper is expected to be run in international GT racing, and Chrysler has signed a deal with Riley Technologies to analyze the potential.
Autoweek contributed to this report
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