Chrysler LLC said today it was considering a sale of its Dodge Viper brand and has hired financial consultant Lazard to advise it, reports the Detroit News.
Rumors of a sale of the Viper come after GM announced that it is considering selling its Hummer brand. The odd thing about this situation though is that although Hummer’s sales are way down, the Dodge Viper’s aren’t. Chrysler’s sales of the Viper are up 111% through July to 682 vehicles over 323 vehicles in the first seven months of 2007.
Keep in mind though that the Viper’s sales account for a very tiny portion of Chrysler’s total sales. In comparison, Chrysler sold more than 150,000 Dodge Rams during the same period.
"We have been approached by third parties who are interested in exploring future possibilities for Viper," said Bob Nardelli, Chrysler’s chairman and CEO. "We have agreed to listen to these parties. We will do so keeping in mind the best interests of those who have shown tremendous support for the vehicle, including employees, suppliers, dealers and a worldwide group of loyal Viper owners and enthusiasts."
"Viper is an integral part of this Company’s heritage. While this is a strategic review, our intent would be to offer strong operational and financial support during any potential transaction, in order to ensure a future for the Viper business and perpetuate the legacy of this great vehicle."
The V-10 Viper is hand-built in a low-volume, modular process at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit. The vehicle was introduced as a concept vehicle at the 1989 Detroit auto show. It was first available as a production vehicle in the 1992 model year. Chrysler sold its 25,000th Viper in March; an SRT10 presented by Nardelli to NASCAR driver Kurt Busch at the plant.
The Dodge Viper is a two-seat, 600-hp sports car with distinct styling and loyal followers. It gets 16 mpg and has a zero-to-60 time of 3.5 seconds.