In Aug. 13 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
So far, the Consumer Allowance Rebate System, also known as "Cash for Clunkers," has been a huge success in Russell County, according to Lance Wade, manager of Franklin Pontiac-Chevrolet-GMC in Russell Springs.
"It's been extremely effective," he said of the federal program which allows consumers to trade in older, fuel-inefficient vehicles and receive credits for either $3,500 or $4,500, depending on certain requirements, toward the purchase of a newer, fuel-efficient vehicle. "It's working great."
"Of course we're still trading for cars that are not 'Cash for Clunkers,'" he added. "The program has generated a lot of buzz for us."
Wade said many times he has had customers come to the dealership with questions about the program, wondering if they qualify.
"Sometimes they don't qualify," he said. "Those people are even trading."
Wade said the only problem right now was inventory, which has taken a hit by the federal program.
"We're selling out in a sense," he said. "Every vehicle is selling quickly and now is the time the 2010 models are beginning to come out."
He said his dealership, along with many other dealerships in the region are having trouble with inventory. "There's just not a lot of inventory right now."
"But we still have a lot of used cars that are not "Cash for Clunkers" because they do not qualify," he said. "We've probably got 350 used cars."
He said many people dropped by the dealership and asking how the program works.
"This is the same at all our stores," he said. "The one here in Russell Springs, in Columbia and we've also got a new GM store in Springfield, Kentucky."
The Springfield dealership was purchased because of the upswing in new car sales, according to Wade.
"Car business is great," he said.
When Wade and his employees first heard about the federal program, he said that he knew there would be a lot of interest but didn't know how many people would actually go through with a trade.
"If you want to buy a vehicle it is the perfect time with 'Cash for Clunkers,'" he said. "And above all that, GM has still got incentives, rebates and low financing with the 'Cash for Clunkers.'"
Wade said that Franklin Motor Company, as a whole, has taken in around 50 fuel-inefficient vehicles since the program began last month.
After a purchase in the program, he said the trade-ins are taken to another location where their engines are destroyed with a government-regulated solution known as sodium silicate, or liquid glass, that essentially locks the engine up to where it can never be started again.
Once a week, a person comes from a salvage yard and gathers all the old vehicles for disposal, Wade said.
He said the fuel-efficient vehicles that have been most popular at his dealership include Chevrolet Impalas, Cobalts and Aveos. In Columbia it has been the Ford Focus and the Nissan Versas and Sentras.
Wade pointed out one GM vehicle that had a $17,000 window sticker that had been reduced to $9,970 through the program and additional GM rebates.
"That just shows you how big of a cut there can be," he said. "That's half-price."
That particular GM vehicle was being traded in for an $800 gas-guzzling van. "But, we're giving them $4,500 for it. They'd be crazy not to trade."
The program has livened up the dealership more than ever.
"This has just put a little more work on us," he said. "When you unlock the door now you go right to work, you don't have that 20 minutes or so to get settled in."
Wade said even when he is out in the community, he gets asked by people if their vehicle qualifies for the federal program.
Wade said for a vehicle to qualify, it must get 18 miles per gallon or less, must have been insured and registered to the owner for one year, must be in running condition and be no older than a 1984 model year.
Last week, lawmakers in the U.S. Senate passed a $2 billion extension that had previously been passed by the House that allows the program to be extended into September.
Government estimates the new money could prompt another 500,000 vehicle sales nationwide, according to published reports.
Wade said the most traded-in vehicles consisted old SUVs, pickup trucks and vans.
"The program is bringing people back out on the lot and getting them back to thinking about trading," he said.