Chrysler not to sell Dodge Viper sports-car unit image

Chrysler Group LLC, the U.S. automaker run by Fiat SpA, said it will no longer pursue the sale of the Dodge Viper sports-car business.

The Detroit plant that makes the $91,000 car, powered by a V-10 engine, will continue production, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company said today in a statement. The factory had been slated to close at the end of 2010.

Chrysler is keeping the Viper business, which had been for sale since August 2008, after the company was formed on June 10 from assets of the bankrupt Chrysler LLC. The Viper unit had 2008 earnings before interest and taxes of $16 million, according to bankruptcy documents.

The Viper “captured the hearts and imagination of performance enthusiasts around the globe,” Mike Accavitti, chief executive officer of the Dodge brand, said in the statement.

U.S. sales of the Viper fell 48 percent to 309 in this year’s first half. The two-seat car, which began sales in 1992, is more than twice as expensive as any other Chrysler model.