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Did airbags kill the Dodge Viper?

by Patrick Rall on

News that the slow-selling Dodge Viper was leaving the lineup after 2017 surfaced months ago, through the new FCA-UAW labor contract. Since there was no official statement, many believed that well-publicized poor sales had led to the demise of the Mopar supercar, but new information from Motor Trend suggests that it was far more than just slow sales.

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After speaking with an unnamed insider, Motor Trend wrote that future safety requirements were a key roadblock in the Dodge Viper continuing beyond 2017.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) #266 requires all new cars to have side curtain airbags. Not only does the Dodge Viper not have them, but, according to the Motor Trend source, the architecture will not support them, and they could not continue into 2018.

The company may have looked at the slumping sales figures when deciding to end the current Viper program, but these looming safety issues may have forced the company’s hand a bit.

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The fact that it wasn’t killed off strictly because of poor sales is good news, as it reinforces the idea that there was another reason to move away from the current Dodge Viper.

There have been speculations that this is only the end of this generation, not the Viper as a whole. Sergio Marchionne recently said that a next-generation Viper was a possibility, and this news  makes a new car in the future more likely.

The FMVSS #266 could have led the company to begin planning the next generation Viper long ago, since they knew that a new car  would be needed. If that is the case, the next generation might not come by 2017, but it might be closer than we had first expected. Source: Motor Trend

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.


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