If it’s just a marketing stunt, then it’s worked, because Chryler’s announcement offering $2.99 per gallon of gas to new Chrysler buyers definitely sparked some interested on the internet, including my own interest.
So what’s the catch? Well, Chrysler issued a laundry list of rules and restrictions, but here are the basics:
- Good for new Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep vehicles
- Can only use this deal or other incentives, but not both.
- Use a special credit card only good at select gas retailers. It’s through the US Voyager network, and you can find stations near you through this link. Apparently, the Texaco right by our house is participating, and their price this morning was $3.69 per gallon. Interesting…
- Limited to 12,000 miles per year
- Limited to the first 3 years
- Only good for 87 Octane, E85 Flex-Fuel, or Diesel. That means it’s no good on their high-performance SRT8 model vehicles as they take premium.
- You gotta act NOW. The promotion ends June 2.
- I think their terms imply that the card they issue will be linked to an existing Visa or Mastercard account owned by you. They’ll calculate how much you owe then bill your card.
- You have to buy the type of gas your registered vehicle takes. Therefore, if your vehicle takes 87, you can’t buy diesel for your VW Rabbit or else you’ll pay full price PLUS a fee. However, they do have concessions if you want to buy higher fuel grades (89, 91, or 93). You still pay a $2 fee, but they only markup mid-level by 15 cents ($3.14) and premium by 30 cents ($3.29). That extra fee may not make it worth it though.
- It’s not a calendar year. Rather, it’s basically summer-to-summer years.
- If you use up your fuel allotment, the card blocks new transactions. If you don’t use it up, you lose it (no rollover to the next year).
- If you get gas using the card for under $2.99, you still pay $2.99 and it goes against your allotment.
- The program is compatible with supplier/employee discounts AND some vehicles get extra bonus money (see chart below).
How Much Fuel is Allotted per Model? And What about Additional Bonus Cash?
From their handy-dandy chart at the bottom of this page. You can see from the 2nd column that Chrysler IS offering bonus cash for many models, in addition to the Refuel America program.
|s Refuel America eligible models||Let’s Refuel America Bonus Cash Program||Average MPG utilized calculations||Total allotted program gallons|
|Chrysler PT Cruiser||$1,000||22||1,636|
|Chrysler PT Convertible||$0||22||1,636|
|Chrysler Sebring Sedan||$0||21||1,714|
|Chrysler Sebring Convertible||$1,000||21||1,714|
|Chrysler Town & Country||$500||19||1,895|
|Dodge Charger RT||$1,000||18||2,000|
|Dodge Grand Caravan||$500||19||1,895|
|Dodge Magnum RT||$1,500||18||2,000|
|Dodge Dakota Club Cab||$1,000||16||2,250|
|Dodge Dakota Quad Cab||$1,000||16||2,250|
|Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup||$3,000||15||2,400|
|Dodge Ram 2500/3500 Pickup||$2,000||15||2,400|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee||$1,000||16||2,250|
How Much Could You Save with a “Fuel Efficient” Model?
So let’s estimate how much money this will save based on some assumptions. Let’s say 87 octane averages $4.50 over the next 3 years. Calculating based on their most fuel efficient model, the Dodge Caliber (at a measly 24mpg average), here’s the numbers.
Gallon Allotment: 1500 derived by ((12,000miles / 24mpg) x 3 years)
Gas Cost Per Year ($2.99): $1495 derived by ($500 x $2.99)
Gas cost over 3 years ($2.99): $4,485
Gas cost per Year ($4.50): $2250
Gas cost over 3 years ($4.50): $6750
Total Savings over 3 Years: $2265
Granted, that’s assuming $4.50 average gas price over the next 3 years and driving 12,000 miles per year. Unfortunately, their more “fuel efficient” models like the Caliber don’t have any extra bonus cash.
In comparison, Dodge is currently offering a $1750 cash allowance on the Dodge Caliber (in our area at least). Looks like the fuel deal is better, if the assumptions work out and you can always fill up at an approved station.
How Much Could You Save with a Diesel Truck Model?
If you go for the 2500 Ram with a Turbodiesel engine, you’re looking at 15mpg average. The EPA doesn’t rate this model on their website, FuelEconomy.gov, so I’ll have to use Chrysler’s numbers. Since diesel is now at around $4.25 average, let’s bump that up to $5.25 average over the next 3 years.
Gallon Allotment: 2400 derived by ((12,000 / 14mpg) x 3 years)
Gas Cost per Year ($2.99): 2392
Gas Cost over 3 years ($2.99): $7176
Gas cost per year ($5.25): $4200
Gas cost over 3 years ($5.25): $12,600!!!
Total Savings over 3 Years: $5424
Tack on the additional $2000 bonus cash and you could save yourself $7424 on the cost of a new turbodiesel Dodge Ram 2500. And I’m sure you could knock a couple grand more off the MSRP if you negotiate a bit.
Again, these are all assumptions, and we’re also assuming that you NEED a giant pickup truck. But in the long-run if fuel costs keep rising, then this Chrysler deal could be a major savings.
In comparison, Dodge is currently offering a $4500 cash allowance on all 2500/3500 models. Looks like the fuel deal wins again, given the assumptions. But if the price of diesel drops into the $3-$4 range, then it’s not any better than the cash allowance (and may be worse).
Is This Deal for You?
Yes, saving thousands on a new vehicle is an attractive option, but first you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you need a new car/truck/van or does your current one work just fine?
- Will you ultimately be paying more for your new vehicle than you currently owe on your existing one? For example, you’re buying a new car for $25,000, but you only owe $15,000 on your current one. Better yet, your car is paid off. So why would you go buy a new one?
You need to look at the final cost, not just the perceived savings. If your car is paid off and you’re looking at a $30,000 new car, which one makes sense? You know the answer, even if you don’t want to admit it.
If you really do need a new vehicle, then check out a mid- to high-mileage vehicle first. Your savings will probably be much higher buying used than buying new, even with all these incentives. And you could probably find a comparable, more fuel-efficient model than what Chrysler offers. Honestly, Chrysler isn’t known for being the most fuel-efficient brand.
So be careful that you don’t get caught up in the hype. As I was writing this and doing the calculations, I actually considered whether I should trade in my Honda Ridgeline truck for something. But then I snapped back to reality and realized I really like my truck and it gets better gas mileage than the Dodge Dakota, or most of their small, mid or large SUVs.