While local auto dealers are saying it provided a little acceleration to their operations, there were some obstacles to navigate.
“The actual program was excellent,” said Dieffenbach GM Superstore Owner Jeff Dieffenbach. “We had a lot of customers who were able to take advantage of it and get significant savings on a new car.”
There was a downside.
“Unfortunately, (the bureaucratic red tape) was the only downside, but none-the-less that’s part of anything you do in business,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s a little more tedious than others.”
Champion Ford Owner Reggie Robinson said his dealership has only been reimbursed for about 20 percent of the transactions it completed through Cash For Clunkers thus far. Some transactions were rejected.
“You really had to have your ducks in a row with this program,” he said. “If you’ve got 20 transactions, that’s $80,000 out there that you’ve already given to somebody.”
He questioned the government putting the word out there then dragging its feet on payments.
“You’ve just got to be really detailed, and those who don’t are going to get hurt,” he said.
Robinson doesn’t believe his dealership will get stuck, but he does think some will. Still, he did complete dozens of deals thanks to the program.
“It brought business to us,” he said. “We had more sales, and that’s definitely a positive effect.”
Mike Griffin of the Griffin Auto Group said he and his employees are “hesitantly excited.”
“We haven’t gotten any of our money, yet, so it’s kind of problematic right now, but it did help us sell some cars,” he said.
Between his three dealerships, Griffin estimated they completed 50 trades.
“Not everybody qualified for Cash For Clunkers, but it (the program) got them down here on the lot, and they knew they needed to trade, so it helped us sell some cars to people who didn’t qualify.”
Under the program the trade in had to be of a certain model year and get 18 miles per gallon or less.
And there’s still a chance for a last hurrah Monday.
“As long as it’s before the deadline, we can still sign you up for the savings,” Griffin said. “I recommend people take advantage of this if they can.”
However, he shared one piece of advice for those who may go looking Monday - “Have your paperwork ready. Paperwork is very important.”
The Obama Administration announced Thursday it wouldn’t seek more money for Cash For Clunkers. The program originally received $1 billion in funding, and after that was exhausted Congress fast-tracked another $2 billion to keep it going.
Through Thursday, the Associated Press reported 457,000 new vehicle sales were generated, but only 40 percent of those deals have been reviewed thus far.
Dealers won’t be allowed to submit new applications after Monday, but they will be able to re-submit applications that were rejected.
President Obama said the program was “successful beyond anyone’s imagination,” and pledged dealers “will get their money,” in an interview Thursday. The government is tripling the number of staffers it has sorting through the paperwork.
The AP is also reporting that General Motors has announced plans to rehire more than 1,300 auto workers following the new sales that have been generated. Hyundai recalled 3,000 workers in Alabama.
Many previously expressed concern that the program would remove vehicles from the road that would otherwise be purchased by poorer people who didn’t have the credit for a new car.
At the GM Superstore, Dieffenbach said most of the vehicles that got traded in through the program were “on their last legs.”
“The majority of the vehicles were vehicles people weren’t going to trade-in before this program, because they wouldn’t have gotten much,” he said.
In his final assessment, Dieffenbach pointed out Cash For Clunkers was a program “for the people.”
“A lot of people were able to take advantage directly of something the government did, instead of it going to a bank or a corporation,” he said. “This helped people get a new car.”
Griffin said if the Obama Administration dreams up more programs to sell cars, he would support it.
“At the end of the day, once everybody has their money, I think we’ll look back and say this was a good thing,” he said. “It helped us sell some cars, it helped buyers save a little money and it helped get some more fuel-efficient cars out on the roads.”