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Gas Gimmick from Chrysler

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.

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