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A gas nozzle in the fuel port of a car. - 

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Scott Jagow: Right on cue, Chrysler rolls out a new incentive program today. Buy certain new cars or trucks and lock in lower gas prices. Amy Scott explains.


Amy Scott: For three years, Chrysler customers will pay just $2.99 a gallon. Chrysler will pay any difference. With the average price about $3.61 right now, the savings could add up. Erich Merkle tracks the auto industry for research firm IRN. He says it's a clever short-term approach. High gas prices and the housing downturn have taken a big bite out of Chrysler's truck sales. But as drivers demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, Merkle says Chrysler will need more than a quick fix.

Erich Merkle: Right now, Chrysler's gotta play the cards they have. But long-term, there's no question that Chrysler is far too heavily wedded on trucks. And they've gotta have something more in terms of a smaller vehicle.

Chrysler is teaming up with Nissan to offer smaller cars in a few years. In the meantime, Merkle says, other automakers may offer gas-related incentives of their own. U.S. auto sales fell 14 percent last month from the year before.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

Follow Amy Scott at @amyreports