Chrysler has recently launched its "Let's Refuel America" campaign in which it claims to offer Americans protection from rising gas prices. Anyone buying a Chrysler (or Dodge or Jeep) thru July 7 will get the deal. Here's how it works: each qualifying buyer will get a 'gas card' that has been linked to their own credit card, but when they gas-up they will only pay $2.99 a gallon with Chrysler charged the difference. You can read more about it here.
This is a really lame-brained scheme. It reminds me of the McCain-Clinton proposal to cut federal gas taxes during the summer-- it's the wrong solution for our economic woes. Yes, we're all hurting from gas prices and we need relief (what are the oil companies offering consumers in terms of help, hmmmm? anyone? hello?). But what Chrysler is offering is an incentive for consumers to ignore gas prices and drive, drive, drive-- thereby producing more green house gases and increasing global warming.
There's got to be a better way for Chrysler to spend this money. It's hard to estimate the potential cost to Chrysler of their offer over the three year period, but it could be huge. Let's say that gas stays at $4 per gallon for the rest of this year and then goes to $4.25/gallon in 2009 (probably too conservative), and then to $4.50/gallon in 2010. The average American drives 12,000 miles per year and gets 25 MPG... so that's over $1800 that Chrysler would have to pay to cover the gas price differential. It would seem to make a lot more sense for Chrysler to just run a promotion that says, "Buy a car now and get $1500 cash back." That would 1) help Americans NOW; 2) likely save Chrysler money over time and 3) not offer an incentive to burn fuel and pollute our atmosphere.
We understand Chrysler is desperate to sell cars-- but they'd probably be doing a whole lot better if they'd developed more fuel-efficient cars years ago. Hey, it's almost quittin' time-- I think I'll jump in my Prius and get 43 MPG on the way home....