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Chrysler Gas Card Not Helping Much

Chrysler reported a 25% sales decline for May despite having arguably the best known and best timed incentive in the market—gas guaranteed at $2.99 per gallon for the next three years.

According to the company, about 10% of new vehicle sales in May took the card rather than the cash discounts. Chrysler said they expected that would be the take rate when they launched it.

Perusing Chrysler’s sales, one of its key problems is that it doesn’t have a good fuel economy story around any one vehicle. The Jeep Patriot was up 82% in May in part as people traded down from bigger Jeep models to cope with higher gas prices. But other Chrysler cars, along with suvs, were way down. The Sebring was down 63%, and the Avenger was down 27%. Meantime, the like-sized Ford Fusion was up 27% in May. Oddly, the Chrysler Aspen posted an 18.2% gain.

Chrysler is in a deal with Nissan for the Japanese automaker to build a small car for Chrysler to launch by late 2010. It can’t arrive fast enough.

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