U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood thanked auto dealers for their participation in the CARS program – aka Cash for Clunkers – in a speech before the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention today.
NADA had been critical of the red tape around what it thought was a needlessly complex program and the associated delays in reimbursement to dealers of rebates of up to $4,500 per Clunker trade-in.
LaHood said that as of this morning 565,690 CARS vouchers have been paid by taxpayers. This translates to almost $2.4 billion covering about 70% of dealers owed money.
LaHood said, “By now, it’s pretty clear that the Car Allowance Rebate System, or CARS program, succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations, and we can all take pride in what we’ve accomplished. Working together, we have delivered the goods to provide a struggling economy with a significant boost.”
To back that up LaHood made the following points:
- August retail sales up 2.7%
- August automobile dealer sales up 10.6%
- Sales boosted by about 440,000 vehicles between June and August
- One of the largest 2-month spikes in auto sales on record
- Increased production at Ford, GM, Toyota, and Honda
- 60% improvement in fuel economy
- $3.6 billion contributed to GDP for 2009
- Millions in local and state sales tax revenues to cash-strapped states