General Motors is trying to help consumers stave off high
prices at the pump. Or, at the very least, the company is trying awfully hard
to boost sales of its SUVs and other typically low-fuel-economy vehicles.
On Tuesday, May 23, the company launched its “GM Fuel Price
Protection Program,” which, according to a news release, will give GM buyers in
California and Florida a $1.99 price cap on gasoline.
As with most promotional programs, there are a few catches.
First, consumers in California must purchase a 2006 or 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe,
Suburban, Impala or Monte Carlo. Also eligible in that state are the 2006 or
2007 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL half-ton models; the Hummer H2 and H3; the Cadillac
SRX; the Pontiac Grand Prix and the Buick Lucerne.
Eligible vehicles in Florida include the 2006- and
2007-model Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, the Pontiac Grand Prix and the
Purchases must be made before July 5.
The other catch is that consumers also have to subscribe to
the OnStar diagnostic system, which automatically runs diagnostic checks on the
vehicle and notifies the owner by e-mail each month. The service is free for
the first year, then $16.95 per month after that.
As for the fuel cap, GM will issue customers pre-paid
MasterCard credit cards. Each month the company will put credit on the card in
an amount determined by estimated fuel usage, which is calculated by miles
recorded by the OnStar system and the fuel economy rating of the vehicle.
GM will credit customers for the difference between the
average price of fuel in their area and the $1.99 price cap. The credits are
good until Dec. 31, 2007, and can be used any place that accepts MasterCard.