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When a snake loses its head: Dodge could kill its Viper sports car in 2017

It shouldn’t be news to anyone by now that the Dodge Viper is struggling to hit sales goals. Last year, only 760 units of the iconic sports car were sold and only 503 have left dealer lots through September of this year. Keep in mind, this is after a significant price cut of nearly $15,000 in September of 2014.

Considering how powerful, attractive, and capable the redesigned Viper is, some might wonder why it continues to hit a sales wall. The answer is likely twofold. First, when Chevrolet introduced the new Corvette Z06 with 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, it outmatched the Viper’s 645 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque output, for less money, and with more advanced aerodynamic and suspension tech on board.

The second challenge comes from within Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)’s own fold: the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats not only make more power (707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque) than Dodge’s halo model, but they’re a good bit cheaper, too.

Related: Dodge Reveals The Street Legal, Track-Ready Viper ACR

Even with the price cut, the 2015 Dodge Viper starts at $86,990, a premium of about $6,500 over the ‘vette and $24,000 over the 2016 Challenger SRT Hellcat. Consumers seeking high-output sports cars at bargain prices have too many choices for the Viper to sell well.

Unfortunately, this may have prompted FCA to write the Viper’s obituary for 2017. Online sources have uncovered FCA and the United Auto Workers (UAW) contract, which states that the Viper will be “built out” that year without any future product replacement in development. Further, the Viper is currently produced at FCA’s Connor Avenue facility in Michigan, which is reportedly scheduled for shutdown in the near future.

All does not look promising for Dodge’s feared-yet-respected sports car, which has been in production since 1992. Having personally driven the Viper on track head-to-head with rivaling vehicles, I can confidently say it’s more than capable, not to mention menacing to behold. It will be a woeful day if these rumors prove true, so I’ll urge those who have the means to see the bright side to Viper ownership: It has the rarity of supercars costing far more. Go on, be a snake tamer!