Blame Airbag Requirements for the Death of the Current Dodge Viper

2016 Dodge Viper ACR Front View In Motion 06

Although it may return in a few years’ time, the current Dodge Viper will soon be killed off. A new report from our colleagues at Motor Trend explains why: Today’s Viper doesn’t meet strict new occupant-ejection airbag requirements. According to MT, Dodge engineers can’t fit side-curtain airbags into the Viper without reducing its already minimal headroom. That means the Viper won’t mean federal requirement FMVSS 226, “Ejection Mitigation,” and thus the model can’t legally be sold by 2017. FMVSS 226, introduced in 2011, is designed to prevent vehicle passengers from being thrown from a car in side-impact or rollover crashes. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the rule will, “reduce the likelihood of complete and partial ejections of vehicle occupants through side windows.” That requires larger side-curtain airbags that help block the car’s windows, which the Viper lacks. Automakers were allowed a phase-in period to introduce “ejection mitigation” features; only 75 percent of an automaker’s vehicles produced between September 2015 and September 2016 must meet the standard, but 100 percent of vehicles produced after August 31, 2016 need to meet FMVSS 226. The current Dodge Viper has never been a high-volume money-maker for the company. The Viper tallied just 676 sales in the U.S. in 2015, down 11 percent compared to 2014. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne told AUTOMOBILE the Dodge Viper could return in a few years’ time on a new platform, one which would surely have updated airbags that match up to the FMVSS 226 standard. Incidentally, the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is the first Chrysler minivan with larger rear-curtain airbags designed to pass the Ejection Mitigation tests.

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