There appears to be a bit of a planning issue with the cars Chrysler plants are sending to dealers. First, there were all those Dart turbo manuals no one wanted for some reason. Then, no one wanted an SRT Viper. Or did they?
SRT head Ralph Gilles told Wards Auto at the LA Auto Show that there's actually a lot of demand for the Viper, contrary to reports of a backlog at the factory and dealerships. Shipping them three months late was one problem. But the bigger problem, apparently, is that dealers just didn't plan well:
"I don't think our network understands the segment very well. I think the mistake we're making is understanding the customer who spends $130,000 to $140,000 for a car. They want what they want – their color, their stripe, their package, their interior. And dealers were trying to anticipate the market ended up creating a car that may not be the right car."
Gilles says more than a third of the 443 authorized Viper dealerships in Chrysler's network don't have a single car to offer a buyer, even though "a handful" are sitting on several. He says that's OK, because who's going to complain about a Viper endlessly "looking sexy" in a showroom? That is one way to look at it.
Most Americans are not used to having to special order cars. These days especially, most go online and search for dealerships that have something they want in stock. The new Viper's customers, however, look like they're willing to wait like a Porsche or Ferrari customer for exactly what they want.