Cash for clunkers speeds sales at Issaquah dealerships
August 11, 2009
By Warren Kagarise
The federal Cash for Clunkers program has revved up sales at Issaquah dealerships Evergreen Ford and Michael’s Chevrolet of Issaquah. Managers at the dealerships said the program has boosted sales and generated excitement during what had been a lackluster year for the struggling U.S. auto industry.
At both dealerships, drivers are trading older pickups and sport utility vehicles for hybrids and other gas-sipping alternatives. The official name of the effort is the Cars Allowance Rebate Program, or CARS. Lawmakers created the program to boost auto sales and remove gas hogs from the roads.
Cash for Clunkers, as it is commonly called, hit the road July 23.
Under the program, buyers receive $3,500 or $4,500 toward a new fuel-efficient vehicle. The allowance depends on the type of vehicle a buyer purchases and the differences in fuel economy between the new vehicle and the so-called clunker. Vehicles traded through the program will be scrapped.
Cash for Clunkers has “added a dimension of excitement to the car business,” said Dan Warshawer, general manager of Michael’s Chevrolet.“If nothing else, it’s brought excitement back to the stores,” he added.
Tony Rehn, general manager and partner at Evergreen Ford, said the effort is “doing exactly what the program intended to do.”
At Evergreen Ford, buyers swapped SUVs and trucks for new vehicles: the small Escape SUV, midsize Fusion and Ranger light pickup. The compact Focus was also selling well, Rehn said last week. Hybrid models of the Escape and Fusion sold out.
Warshawer said small Equinox SUVs and compacts, such as the Aveo and Cobalt were popular with Cash for Clunker buyers. Warshawer said the Malibu was almost out of stock. He noted how the Malibu is one of three Chevy models available as a hybrid, and the only Chevy hybrid that qualifies for the program.
Despite the early success of the program, Warshawer said misconceptions exist among would-be customers.
“They can’t go back and go buy another three-quarter ton truck,” he said. “That’s not going to work.”
But Rehn said most customers were researching options before making the trip to dealership lots.
At Evergreen Ford, rows of trade-in vehicles sat idle with “Clunk” scrawled across windshields and fliers reading “Crush Me” tucked beneath windshield wipers.
Congress set aside $1 billion for the program, but when the effort proved popular with dealerships and the public, lawmakers approved another $2 billion to extend the program. Cash for Clunkers will run until Nov. 1 or whenever the money runs out — whichever comes first.
Small cars, such as the Focus and the Toyota Corolla, have proven especially popular as new Cash for Clunkers models. Rehn said last week the supply of the number of Focuses he had on the lot was dwindling.
“Most dealerships are out of cars,” he said.
Trade your clunker for cash
Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date.
Only the purchase or lease of new vehicles qualify.
In most cases, trade-in vehicles must get 18 or fewer MPG. Some very large pickups and cargo vans have different requirements.
Trade-in vehicles must be registered and insured continuously for the full year preceding the trade in.
No voucher is necessary; dealers will apply a credit at purchase.
Program runs through Nov. 1 or when funds are exhausted, whichever comes first.
The program requires the scrapping of your eligible trade-in vehicle. The dealer must disclose to you an estimate of the scrap value of your trade in. The scrap value, however minimal, will be in addition to the rebate, and not in place of the rebate.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or email@example.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.