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Chrysler says interest in Viper

2008-09-15 10:40

Chrysler has drawn interest from international and North American parties for the possible sale of its high-performance Dodge Viper sports car line, vice chairman and president Jim Press told reporters on Wednesday.

Chrysler in late August announced it was exploring the sale of the Viper sports car business as part of its effort to generate cash and ride out the deepening US auto industry downturn. The Viper is a low-volume V10-powered sports car first produced in 1992.

"We have been approached by outside individuals who want to work with us to buy the asset and sustain Viper going forward," Press told reporters after an Automotive Press Association event.

Viper needs development, and Chrysler is putting its money into advanced technology, Press said, adding later that the future of the automotive industry lies in the development of battery technology.

"Someone who is better able to make money in a business model that is hand-built 50 units at a time, those people can invest in the product, expand the product line and make it a much more robust vehicle," Press said. "I think that will preserve Viper to the fullest."

Press said it would not be necessary for Chrysler to retain any stake in the sports car line. He added that it was difficult for an organization to focus on building 300 000 vans per year profitably and low-volume hand-built sports cars.

Chrysler sold about 680 Viper sports cars in the first eight months of the year.

The privately held car company has struggled along with other automakers through a downturn in US sales in recent years that has landed hardest on large trucks and SUVs.

Chrysler, which retained Lazard as its financial adviser on Viper, had said earlier that it had identified about $1 billion in non-earning assets for potential sale to raise cash.

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