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FIAT CHRYSLER TO CLOSE VIPER FACTORY IN DETROIT

Automaker says it will offer jobs to all 87 workers at plant

- Nathan Bomey @ NathanBome­y USA TODAY Contributi­ng: Eric Lawrence, Detroit Free Press

Fiat Chrysler will close the Detroit factory where workers made the small- volume Dodge Viper supercar by hand.

The Italian- American automaker informed Michigan government officials the plant would close Aug. 31 and that it would offer jobs to all of the workers there, according to a letter that surfaced Wednesday.

The plant, built in 1966 and acquired by Chrysler in 1995, now employs about 87 people, according to the letter. The company had announced in 2016 that Vi- per production would end after the 2017 model year, putting the 392,000- square- foot factory’s future in jeopardy.

The facility’s closure leaves the Motor City with only one assembly plant completely inside its borders: Fiat Chrysler’s factory on Jefferson Avenue. General Motors also owns a plant that straddles the border of Detroit and Hamtramck.

GM remains headquarte­red in downtown Detroit and the city has many automotive suppliers, but its heritage as a major source of vehicle assembly ended many years ago with the globalizat­ion of the auto industry.

Fiat Chrysler spokeswoma­n Jodi Tinson said the outcome should not come as a surprise. The company’s 2015 contract with the United Auto Workers union outlined that no new product would replace the Viper at the plant after the vehicle was discontinu­ed. The company is “just following the law” by filing documentat­ion with the government, Tinson said.

The Viper factory, known locally as the Conner Assembly Plant for the street where it’s lo- cated, has had a turbulent past. It was idled in July 2010 after the Viper was temporaril­y discontinu­ed following Chrysler’s brush with death during its 2009 bankruptcy.

Fiat Chrysler renovated and reopened the plant in December 2012 after redesignin­g and reviving the Viper. But sales failed to meet projection­s of 1,500 units per year, and the company was forced to lower the price.

Over the years, the plant’s products included the Prowler, Viper 10- cylinder engines, the SRT10 Roadster and the SRT10 Coupe. Altogether, the company made more than 25,400 Vipers at the plant from 1992 through 2016. The vehicle hits the end of the road on its 25th anniversar­y.

 ?? FCA US LLC ?? Fiat Chrysler says it is ending production of the Dodge Viper, first built in 1992, with the 2017 model — its 25th anniversar­y.
FCA US LLC Fiat Chrysler says it is ending production of the Dodge Viper, first built in 1992, with the 2017 model — its 25th anniversar­y.

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