Dodge overhauls Viper ordering
Dodge is taking customization to new levels with its Viper super car.
The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV brand on Thursday announced that every buyer of the Viper GTC and other high-end models starting in February will have the option to customize their car to their liking, making no one car the same as another.
"It's a unique way to sell this car," said Dodge President and CEO Tim Kuniskis during a media event Thursday at FCA US LLC, formerly Chrysler Group LLC, headquarters in Auburn Hills.
With 8,000 exterior color options, 24,000 custom stripes, 10 wheel options, 16 interior trims and six aerodynamic packages, there are more than 25 million build combinations, according to Kuniskis. And Dodge will not allow any two cars to be built the same under the new program. It excludes the entry-level SRT and GT models.
Pricing for the GTC custom model, based on the GT, will start at $94,995 without destination fees and taxes — the same starting price of the GT. It includes the ability to customize the vehicle for a "one-of-one" design, personalized instrument panel with the owner's name or anything else they'd like along with an exclusive concierge service to help each customer build their vehicle and a Viper Ambassador Owner's Portal with sharable content to track its production.
"We want to leverage the exclusiveness of this car," said Kuniskis, adding the program was inspired by current Viper owners priding themselves on ways they customized their car in the aftermarket. "Every single Viper is custom. Whatever you want, we will build it for you."
Customizing also will be allowed on the high-end models that start at more than $100,000 such as the TA, TA 2.0 and GTS models. No additional fees apply except the price of the optional equipment.
Kuniskis said the company will not build any combinations deemed unsafe. The new customization program is available exclusively for customer orders, not for dealer stock.
Owners will be able to choose how they receive their customized Viper. They can have it delivered to a dealer, their home or pick it up at the Viper plant and receive a free tour.
"This is great, said Viper Owners Association President Maurice Liang on Thursday. "We didn't buy a Viper to blend in, we bought a Viper to stand out. If you want to stand out, you have to be unique."
Liang, a California resident and owner of three Vipers, said one of the best things about the new "one-of-one" program is every car is factory-built instead of owners having to use aftermarket parts and accessories.
The new program comes a few months after Dodge cut the starting price of the Viper by $15,000 to about $85,000 following lower than expected sales.
The custom program was announced in conjunction with a 20-minute video for Viper's website that goes through the build process of the car — from hand-laid carbon fiber to chassis testing and design.
"We really needed to tell the story of how this car was built to explain to the customer who's going to spend that much money, really what they're getting for their money," Kuniskis said.
Viper production began in May 1992 at the Mack Assembly Plant. It moved to the Conner Avenue site in October 1995. In 23 years, Chrysler has built about 30,000 of the cars. They were not produced from July 2010 to January 2013.
The Viper was folded back into the Dodge brand earlier this year, following the high-performance SRT brand shifting to Kuniskis and Dodge.
FCA sold 760 Vipers last year in the U.S., up from 591 in 2013.
Kuniskis said the new custom program isn't designed to significantly increase Viper sales of the niche super car.
"We just see it taking the (unique selling proposition) that we already have and really increasing the halo effect of this car," he said. "It has a dramatic impact on people coming to our website, looking at the car and then shopping our product."
Production of the customized cars will begin in the second quarter.