GM Car Czar Reveals Real Reason for Viper Sale

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
gm car czar reveals real reason for viper sale

I never considered the California Air Resource Board (CARB) a motivating force for Chrysler’s Viper model sale– until I read this WardsAuto story. “The new minimum CAFE standard of 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km) in 2020 and additional pressure from California and 15 other states to limit carbon dioxide is part of what may force Chrysler LLC to jettison its Viper high-performance model,” Wards reported after a chinwag with GM Car Czar Bob Lutz. “‘Setting lower CO2 limits would equal setting CAFE at 43 mpg (5.5 L/100 km),’ Lutz says. ‘This is why the sale of the Dodge Viper by Chrysler makes sense, because anyone selling fewer than 50,000 vehicles annually would be exempt (from fuel-economy requirements).'” The Car Czar’s got a point! OK, OK, so California bill AB1493 sets a fleet exemption of 60k vehicles. And the EPA has denied CA the waiver they need to implement the law. And the real– and really bizarre– threat is that each state would have different fleet-wide requirements, depending on the model mix in that state. Never mind. “So if someone else bought Viper,” Bob bitches. “They could sell to capacity, but Chrysler couldn’t. This is why we are concerned about Corvette.” Bob blames the hypothetical threat on hypocritical Hollywood environmentalists. “The reason California set the exemption for less than 50,000 units is that it would mean the Hollywood folks could keep driving their Lamborghinis and Ferraris. Porsche could sell 11-mpg (21.4 L/100 km) Cayennes, but we couldn’t sell 20-mpg (11.8 L/100 km) Chevy Tahoes.” [Thanks to KixStart for the link.]

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4 of 14 comments
  • MBella MBella on Sep 08, 2008

    The 50,000 rule protects low volume start-up companies that would have a difficult time to start selling there cars.

  • Dr Lemming Dr Lemming on Sep 09, 2008

    GM is getting so desperate that it is preparing to sell off Corvette? And to cover its trail -- no, this isn't about finances --they blame it on CAFE? Clever if true. But I am hard-pressed to believe that Bob and friends could possibly let go of their very favorite GM product. That would be like voluntarily allowing one's dangling modifier to be cut off. Taint gonna happen. Be that as it may, Corvette would presumably have a much greater chance of being sold off for a reasonable sum than Viper, which never made much of an impact sales-wise and is too crude design-wise to have much staying power. It's like an Avanti II without the timeliness styling. Corvette as its own company (much like Aston Martin after its sale from Ford)? That would be very interesting. I would think that it would be profitable. Presumably GM would remain a part owner. Could it reserve rights to sell Corvettes exclusively through GM dealers?

  • Robert Farago Robert Farago on Sep 09, 2008

    MBella: It's sixty thousand. Bob got it wrong. Six Zero Zero Zero Zero.

  • Edgett Edgett on Sep 09, 2008

    This does point up the ridiculous side of the CAFE standard. If the objective is to get people to drive more fuel-efficient vehicles, a tax on fuel, or variable tax based on fuel-efficiency would do much the same thing. And if that money were then put into a fund to improve auto efficiency standards (like airport taxes go to improve airports), everyone wins. CAFE will be like a tax in any event as the consumer ends up paying for the changeover to more fuel efficient cars in higher prices. It is unclear that the car companies are any more efficient than the government in distributing money to R&D. I'll turn my flamesuit ON now...