If you didn’t already know, production of the Dodge Viper is scheduled to end in 2017 and there are no plans at present for a successor—although that may change at some point, according to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] CEO Sergio Marchionne.
FCA hasn’t come out and stated why it’s killing the Viper but sales numbers tell part of the story. Just 676 Vipers were sold in all of 2015, down 11 percent on the previous year’s tally even though pricing was slashed and the world-beating Viper ACR was introduced. Remember, this is a vehicle that’s shares little in common with any other FCA model and built at a dedicated plant.
Now Motor Trend has learned from a source that another reason for the car’s demise is federal safety standard FMVSS #226. Starting in 2017, all new cars will need to comply with the standard, which requires the fitment of side curtain airbags, and apparently the Viper with its already limited headroom can’t be modified to suit.
FCA has a lot on its plate right now, especially in regards to its reboot of Alfa Romeo which hasn’t exactly got off to a great start. Nevertheless, with a modern platform borrowed from another FCA model, as alluded to by Marchionne, we could see the Viper road again. After all, we’ve already seen the Viper go into hibernation only to come back bigger and stronger. The last time was in mid-2010 when we saw production stop for about two years.