just-auto.com

US: Dodge starts 'hand-building’ '08 Viper SRT10

By just-auto.com editorial team | 25 October 2007

Chrysler has announced the manufacturing launch of the new 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10, which is being built at the company's Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit.

At a time when most manufacturing plants utilise hundreds of state-of-the-art robots to assemble vehicles, a unique plant in Detroit is producing hand-built performance vehicles.

At the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, workers called "Craftspersons" hand-build the new Dodge Viper SRT10 and all-new 600-horsepower 8.4-liter SRT V-10 engine.

Utilising 26 work stations on a 705-foot-long assembly line, 48 hand-picked UAW workers assemble each vehicle. Each vehicle remains stationary for up to 49 minutes per work area as the Craftspersons make any necessary adjustments. This process eliminates traditional repair stations with all procedures verified by Craftsperson team members.

Each Dodge Viper is primarily made of seven component modules (instrument panel, fuel tank, suspension corner modules, wheels and tyres, cooling module, lift gate assembly and full dressed engine). With the exception of the engine, all modules are shipped to the Conner facility from other locations. Stamping, casting and welding all take place off-site with body panels arriving already painted.

Normally performed only on race cars, an alignment machine sets caster and camber at normal ride height, at jounce and at rebound (upward and downward travel of suspension). Typical factory alignments set caster and camber in the normal ride height position only. The 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 is the only US production vehicle set up for such alignment at the factory.

"Our assembly process is just as exceptional as the car," said Melissa Holobach, Plant Manager - Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, Sterling Heights Vehicle Test Center (SHVTC) and Pilot Operations. "The process of building these vehicles by hand has allowed us the freedom to produce race-inspired performance without the constraints of mass production," Holobach said. "Our workforce is committed to producing the best vehicles possible and it shows in their commitment to detail."

The all-new 600-horsepower 8.4-liter SRT V-10 engine is built next to the vehicle on a 24-station circular line by nine Craftspersons. These nine workers assemble and certify each engine before they are installed in the chassis.

Each Dodge Viper is tested in place on the assembly line utilising special rollers. At this stage the vehicle is a rolling chassis without its body panels. During this "roll test" it is driven through all six speeds of the transmission, up to 90 mph to verify vehicle function.

The 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 is offered in both Roadster and Coupe versions.

"The 2008 Dodge Viper continues to be an icon for not only the Dodge brand but the company," said Frank Ewasyshyn, Executive Vice President - Manufacturing.

"Compared to our other manufacturing facilities, this is a very labour-intensive plant, but to build the Dodge Viper any other way wouldn't be right. This small craft shop allows us to produce a true American legend."