As part of its well-publicized bankruptcy and restructuring, Chrysler will permanently shutter six of its facilities, one of which is the only plant that builds the Dodge Viper. That's on top of word that all Chrysler factories and assembly plants will be put on hold for 60 days while the automaker attempts to emerge from what executives are calling a "surgical" bankruptcy.
Despite the White House's assurance that no plants would be closed during the bankruptcy, court papers filed early this morning in New York indicate that Chrysler will close its Sterling Heights Assembly in Sterling Heights, Michigan, Detroit Axle, Conner Avenue in Detroit, St. Louis North Assembly in Fenton, Missouri, Kenosha Engine in Wisconsin and Twinsburg Stamping in Ohio.
Sterling Heights Assembly currently builds the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring, Conner Avenue hand builds the Dodge Viper and the St Louis North builds the Dodge Ram. Some of the Detroit-area jobs will be transferred to the Jefferson North Assembly Plant that builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Sterling Heights and Detroit Axle plants will be leased back to Chrysler until they close by next December.
The plant closures ensure that an Avenger/Sebring replacement will be built elsewhere within about 18 months. Rams are also assembled in Saltillo, Mexico, and Warren, Michigan, and with sales and market share up, production at those plants will likely be kicked into high gear.
The Viper's future with any automaker was in doubt given the automaker hasn't announced a potential buyer for the sports car line. Chrysler parent company Cerberus was planning to kill off the Viper before 2011, anyway, so the V10-powered car's demise does not come as a surprise, even if it is a little earlier than had been previously indicated.