For anyone out there who doubted the potential success of the “Cash for Clunkers” program, for shame! Barely a week after its launch so many people lined up to cash in their guzzlers for new cars it was reported that the program was going to have to be suspended due to concerns that the government was burning through funding too quickly to keep up with demand. Automotive News reported:
“A preliminary analysis by the Transportation Department shows that dealers sold 250,000 vehicles with the government benefit since July 1. The program began in earnest a week ago, when rules were released.” (1)
To keep the sales rolling in, the House passed legislation to add another $2 billion to the $1 billion budget. If it passes in the Senate next week, the money would be pulled from a U.S. loan-guarantee program for renewable energy systems that was funded by the stimulus package earlier this year. (1)
Already, industry leaders and MotorSpaceNW bloggers alike are spreading word of what’s being called a glimmer of hope in an industry that’s been struggling to get back to its feet after the recession knocked its clock silly with a slow-motion roundhouse kick of “Bloodsport” proportions (Jean-Claude Van Damme, circa 1988).
“The downward spiral has been broken. We saw a stabilization in sales in the second quarter, and there will be a recovery in automotive sales,” Mike Jackson, CEO of the largest U.S. dealership group, AutoNation Inc., said in an interview. “There's no question about it.” (1)
On a personal note, <Begin Rant> I just found out my 1991 Dodge Dynasty is eligible for the clunkers program by 1 mpg! But I still can’t afford to buy a new car! Because even with a $4,500 voucher I would still have to make up the extra six grand or so it would cost to bring home something on par with a new Kia Rio. That’s right, a Rio.
You see, cash for clunkers doesn’t raise the impoverished car enthusiast from despondency because it doesn’t help people who aren't close to being able to afford a new car in the first place. For the little guy, cash for clunkers is nothing more than a bucket of fish heads dangled just out of my reach.
It’s getting pretty bad - the Dynasty is beginning her slow crawl out into the woods to die, and once she gets above 20 mph, the doors lock automatically.
As you may recall, about a month ago she dropped her muffler in the sweltering but crack of rush hour traffic like a starving leper thankful to be rid of the dead weight on a laborious pilgrimage to the next gas station. I let her have her way and pretended the extra noise was two extra cylinders.
Several weeks later I was beginning to feel pretty cheap and decided to take her to the local Les Schwab for a free tire rotation. They informed me it would be illegal for them to perform such a procedure because the tires were so far beyond needing to be replaced.
I took my free bag of stale popcorn and bid them good day. Several weeks later the left rear exploded, stranding me in rush hour traffic in 80-degree heat. The spare didn’t appear to be adequately inflated but I was too close to home to pay for a tow truck. We hobbled the rest of the way with the hazards on while the mini half-exhausted clown tire giggled the Dynasty's sloppy suspension about in a lurid testament to why cash for clunkers is an incentive, not a means to buy a new car.