Well, here we go again. Cash for Clunkers is out of money, and they’re stopping the program (again) on Monday. That gives dealers until 5 p.m. Pacific time to get in their applications for reimbursement. Of course, with the number of dealers who’ve already withdrawn from the program due to the administrative snafus that prevented them from getting reimbursed, we imagine the idea of a sudden last-minute flurry of desperate applications with send a shudder through any salesperson worth their salt. Consider this – as of today, the government has only paid out $145 million, or just around 7%, or the nearly $2 billion at their disposal. The government is quick to blame this slow turnaround on mistakes in the submissions process on the dealership side of things, but who knows what’s really going on?
With so much emphasis on these administrative issues, it’s sometimes hard to remember that the program has generated 457,000 new vehicle sales since it began on July 24th. Has the program been a victim of its own success? The administration would like you to think so – in a radio interview today, Obama said, “And we’re now slightly victims of success because the thing happened so quick, there was so much more demand than anybody expected, that dealers were overwhelmed with applications.” Speaking of overwhelmed, we’ll be very interested to track the tally of last-minute clunker sales this weekend. Stay tuned!