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Posted by: Jim Henry on May 05, 2008
It remains to be seen whether Chrysler LLC’s “Let’s Refuel America” campaign will create an auto industry sensation like “Employee Prices for Everyone,” or “Zero-Percent Financing,” but the $2.99 per gallon promotion will certainly burn up the airwaves for a while, in an ad campaign, news reports and word-of-mouth.
Chrysler announced today that starting Wednesday through June 2, customers for most of their biggest-selling vehicles can opt for a credit card that locks in gasoline at $2.99 per gallon for three years. For vehicles with a customer incentive, which is to say pretty much all of them, customers can take the present incentive deal as-is, or accept a reduced incentive, plus the gas card.
Here's how it works: the customer who opts for the $2.99 card gets charged the going rate at the pump, but their credit card statement will only bill them for $2.99 a gallon, for regular gas ($3.29 for premium, for cars that take premium). Chrysler will pay the difference.
The deal is limited to 12,000 miles a year for three years, at the EPA-estimated mileage for a particular vehicle. For instance, the entry-level, front-drive Dodge Caliber gets an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in combined city/highway driving. That's about 1,384 gallons of gas, for 36,000 miles. According to today's AAA Fuel Gauge Report, the national average price for regular gas was $3.61. At that price, the deal costs Chrysler about $858 for three years. More, if gas goes up. If gas goes below $2.99, the customer simply doesn't use the card.
Gas-guzzling models like the Dodge Viper, or high-performance SRT models are not included.
Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Detroit bureau chief David Welch , Dexter Roberts and Ian Rowley bring daily scoop, keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business from around the globe. Read their take on such weighty issues as Detroit’s attempt at a comeback, Toyota’s quest for dominance and the search for an efficient car.