The 2013 SRT Viper GTS
Patrick Rall's picture

Dealer associations questioning legality of $25k fee for 2013 SRT Viper

A memo came across my desk this morning that revealed that some state Dealers Associations are reaching out to Chrysler Group dealerships around their state, asking dealership owners for their opinion on the $25,000 fee being demanded by the Chrysler Group in order to earn the right to sell the new 2013 SRT Viper – claiming that these financial requirements could violate state franchise laws.

Information leaked from the Chrysler Group Dealer Convention about the new SRT and High Performance Dealer Programs indicated that those dealerships interested in selling and/or servicing the 2013 SRT Viper must pay fees in the area of $25,000. Those fees pay for dealership décor specific to the Viper and the SRT brand, specific tooling needed to work on SRT vehicles, special training for technicians and track time for two dealership representatives. Chrysler claims that these requirements have been laid out so that they can guarantee that when a prospective 2013 Viper owner comes to buy their new supercar – they receive a true supercar experience including sales people who have firsthand experience behind the wheel of the new Viper. Chrysler is on the right track with requiring such a heavy level of training for both technicians and the sales staff as, in my experiences in the dealership world, salesmen often know less than the consumer about the vehicles that they are trying to sell – especially with very low volume, high performance cars.

Unfortunately, some state dealership associations are concerned that these hefty monetary requirements both violate state franchise laws as well as “undermining the value of their franchise”. In any case, dealership representatives from several states have been asked to contact their local dealership association to voice their views on the $25,000 SRT dealership program.

It is unclear what the next step could be if the dealership associations in question believe that these new SRT High Performance Dealer Programs are found to be in violation of local franchise laws. Realistically, I expect that many of those dealerships that know that they will be selling a great many Vipers such as the Viper super-authorities at Woodhouse Chrysler Dodge Ram would have quickly written a check for the required $25,000 but those dealerships who are in the fringe of being picked to sell the new Viper – that $25k fee might be more than they can stomach. However, the fact that Chrysler wants SRT buyers to have a unique buying experience when picking up their new Viper does not seem to be any different to me than the fact that Chevrolet, Cadillac and Lincoln all want dealerships to look a certain way to offer conformity among the brand as well as a certain level of interior quality. Let’s be honest; we have all been in some ratty car dealerships and Chrysler doesn’t want people going into a dealership that was built and decorated in the 1980s selling their new supercar.

The arrival of the 2013 SRT Viper in those specially picked and decorated showrooms is expected to begin in November so if the various dealership associations are going to make a fuss about the high fees of selling the new Viper – they had better act fast.

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