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SRT Chief Responds To Viper Production Slowdown

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Ralph Gilles builds a Viper with Jim Lay and Tony Banks - image: Chrysler LLC

Ralph Gilles builds a Viper with Jim Lay and Tony Banks - image: Chrysler LLC

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Worry not, Viper fans--Chrysler has no plans to kill off the SRT Viper. That's despite recent news that Chrysler had cut production due to low demand and inventory pile-up--reducing production from nine cars per day, to six.

But Ralph Gilles, president and CEO of Chrysler’s SRT Brand and Motorsports, tells Ward's Auto that the car has a "bright future". He says the problem of cars stacking up on dealer lots isn't one of oversupply, but dealers misunderstanding the wants and needs of its buyers.

“I don’t think our network understands the segment very well", Gilles explained, noting that dealers have been ordering cars in specifications they think buyers might want, and coming up short. What buyers actually want with the $100,000 all-American supercar is to specify it exactly the way they choose, rather than picking a car off the lot. Dealers have been unprepared to deal with such bespoke requests, he said.

Chrysler has instigated a fourth-quarter training program to fix this issue called the "All Access Tour", pairing dealers with existing Viper owners and potential buyers. Viper owners and those considering the car will get opportunities to drive the new Viper, and it's a chance for dealer staff to become more familiar with their target audience.

While production has slowed down, it's not a sign that it's winding down completely. Gilles confirms the factory has just starting assembling 2014 models, including the Time Attack models unveiled at the New York Auto Show earlier this year. All Time Attack cars have already been sold, as have the 50 Anodized Carbon models announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show--which sold out within three days.

It's models like these, says Gilles, that show Chrysler's ability to meet specific demand. And once dealers get to know their customers better, little suggests that production figure won't rise once again.

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