Car buying incentives, European gas prices

Car buying incentives, European gas prices

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2008 8:42 pm
By: AP

By The Associated Press Gas prices have long been sky-high in Europe. So given what’s happened to prices at the pump in America recently, has a gallon of gas in Paris or Rome gone from expensive to ridiculous? Curiosity about European gas prices inspired one of three questions in this edition of “Ask AP,” a weekly Q&A column where AP journalists respond to readers’ questions about the news. If you have your own news-related question that you’d like to see answered by an AP reporter or editor, send it to newsquestions(at)ap.org, with “Ask AP” in the subject line. And please include your full name and hometown so they can be published with your question. ——— I would like to know how Chrysler new car dealerships can afford to offer the $2.99 gas incentive, with gas prices so unpredictable and no end in sight for further increases. They don’t know how many people will take advantage of the promotion, which subsidizes drivers’ fuel costs over $2.99 a gallon for three years. Are they counting on gas prices dropping to a more affordable level? Daniel Hegarty Saugerties, N.Y. ——— Chrysler LLC is picking up the tab for the difference between $2.99 and the rising price per gallon of gasoline, not the dealers. Chrysler says money for the subsidy is coming out of its regular incentive budget. The company purchased oil futures to hedge against the rising cost of gasoline, but it would not say how much it spent or its estimates of gasoline prices. The offer is becoming increasingly attractive as gas prices continue to rise. But if you’re thinking of signing on, remember: It’s limited to 12,000 miles per year for three years. People who buy or lease eligible Chrysler vehicles can pick between the gas subsidy, cash rebates or zero-percent financing — or, with some vehicles, a combination of the subsidy and rebates. You need to do the math to see which option makes the most sense for you. Actual savings depend on what happens to gas prices during the next three years, of course. But here’s an example, based on today’s average national price of $4.079 for a gallon of regular: Let’s say you’re buying a 2008 Dodge Durango four-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle with a 5.7-liter V-8 engine. For this vehicle, you have three incentive choices: $6,000 in cash, zero-percent financing for three years or the gas subsidy deal plus $2,000 in cash. Based on the Durango’s mileage, the gas subsidy would save you about $871 per year. Multiply that by three years and add $2,000, and you end up with a total savings of $4,613 — far less than you’d save by just taking the $6,000 rebate in the first place. Again, those numbers are based on gas prices staying where they are right now — which is hardly guaranteed. Tom Krisher AP Auto Writer, Detroit ——— We continue to hear that the increase in gas and oil prices is a global issue. If this is the case, why are we not hearing about tremendous increases elsewhere in the world? If our prices have doubled in the past year or so, should this not be happening worldwide? Europe has been paying twice (or more) what we have for years. They should now be paying $12 to $15 per gallon. Is this happening? Brian Sullivan Glen, N.H. ——— Europeans are indeed suffering from higher fuel prices. In fact, fishermen and truck drivers have staged protests over the rising cost of the fuel they need to operate their vehicles. Motorists in Paris, for example, get their gas for about 1.60 euros per liter — or more than $9.50 per gallon. However, a strong euro blunts the rise in gasoline prices somewhat for Europeans since oil is priced in U.S. dollars. Also, most of the price at the pump in Europe is taxes, so an increase in the cost of crude has less of a percentage-based impact on the price of a gallon of gas — making it less likely to double (or triple). David McHugh Business Editor, AP Europe & Africa Desk London ——— The Washington story on Texas Gov. Rick Perry comparing boots with the Prince of Bhutan says that buildings on the University of Texas-El Paso campus were built in Bhutan-style architecture. I always heard — dating to when the school was the Texas College of Mines and later Texas Western College of the University of Texas — that the style was Tibetan. Who’s right? Joseph Benham Kerrville, Texas ——— Since 1917, the university has built its campus in the style of Bhutanese dzongs, or fortresses. Kathleen Worrell, wife of the school’s first chancellor, urged her husband to build the campus’s first building in this style after seeing a 1914 photo essay about Himalayan architecture in National Geographic, according to the school’s Web site. Since then nearly every building on campus has been built in the Bhutanese style. Alicia Caldwell AP Correspondent El Paso, Texas ——— Have questions of your own? Send them to newsquestions(at)ap.org. Published in The Messenger 6.30.08

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