The Dodge Viper and Jeep Wrangler brands face an uncertain future as papers filed in the bankruptcy of parent company Chrysler LLC spell out doom for the two iconic names.
Doom and gloom are written in the sections of the bankruptcy filing documents that deal with Chrysler's Viper and Jeep Wrangler brands. These documents refer to two Chrysler entities, one called OldCo and the other is the New Chrysler. OldCo assets would not be affected by the recently-announced Fiat/ Chrysler tie up and would ultimately be closed down by 2010.
These OldCo assets, including eight manufacturing plants and their machinery, have a book value of US$2.3 billion. One of them is the Conner plant in Detroit which has 115 employees who build the Viper products there.
Chrysler told Inside Line "Chrysler LLC is evaluating strategic alternatives for the Viper business including the potential sale of the Viper nameplate" and that there are interested parties to the sale. The Viper would be sold as a standalone title and/or with its associated plant and tooling resources.
But the worst deal seems to have been dealt to the Jeep Wrangler which is singled out in the papers specifically. Statements filed as part of the thousands of documents dealing with the bankruptcy say that a potential buyer for the Jeep Wrangler "would face significant additional investment costs in the range of $550 million to $1 billion... There are likely other significant costs that a potential buyer would have to incur in order to re-establish the brand."
They also make a point to mention how attempts to sell Opel, Saturn, SAAB and HUMMER have failed because of a current unwillingness by potential buyers to invest in standalone motor brands.