Although the Viper has long served as a halo car for the Dodge brand, Chrysler revealed today the model will be labeled and sold under the SRT brand when it returns for the 2013 model year.
The automaker released a statement this afternoon, noting the next-generation Viper will continue to be built in the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, located on the east side of Detroit. Interestingly, the 592-word release uses the Dodge name only twice: once in reference to the previous car, and and in another instance within a boilerplate closing paragraph. Allusions to the new sports car refer to it a 2013 SRT Viper.
That’s no typo. SRT spokesman Dan Reid confirmed to us that the 2013 Viper will, in fact, be branded and sold as a SRT model, making it the first Viper to shun the Dodge badge. It’s also the first vehicle that will be unique to the SRT brand, which was formally established earlier this year.
Reid declined to comment on how Vipers will be sold and serviced, but given officials downplayed the idea of a stand-alone SRT dealer network earlier this year, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see Dodge dealers continue to handle the model line.
Viper production began in 1992, but wasn’t shifted to the Conner Avenue facility – which was a former Champion spark plug factory – until October of 1995. Unlike Chrysler’s other assembly lines, the Conner Avenue line allowed for cars to be virtually hand-built, and at a very low volume. The automaker estimates the facility produced an average of 12 cars a day for the past 15 years. This likely won’t change going forward, although Chrysler says it will implement Fiat’s World Class Manufacturing process in an effort to improve quality and productivity.
“We’re extremely excited that our ultimate American sports car will continue to live on and be produced exclusively here in the Motor City,” said Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of the SRT brand, in a prepared statement. Chrysler also points out it’s the only automaker to actually manufacture cars within the confines of Detroit. A General Motors plant, which builds the Chevrolet Volt and the 2012 Malibu, is only six miles away, but technically falls within the borders of Hamtramck.
Chrysler says the Viper’s return to Conner Avenue will add 150 jobs to the Detroit workforce. Former Conner Avenue employees will have first dibs on these positions before other hourly employees can apply for them. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2012.