"Cash For Clunkers" receives bailout

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The government is racing to continue the "Cash for Clunkers" program. In effect for only about a week, the car rebate plan is so popular, it's already running low on money.

Today the House approved an additional two-billion dollars. The Senate hopes to win approval next week. The White House says the program will still be in place this weekend.

That keeps alive; a rare buying opportunity for at least the next two days, the government was hoping that dealers would sell about fifteen new cars under this cash-for-clunkers program. But we're finding that some dealers are doing far better than that.

In just four days, the McGeorge Car Company took in eighty so-called "clunker" vehicles. Well ahead of government expectations.

"It's very encouraging from the dealer perspective that the feds are, instead of suspending the program, they're extending it," said Nick Scola, McGeorge Car Company.

The program allows certain "gas guzzling" vehicles to be scrapped, in return for a new car credit worth up to $4,500.

And it was so popular, that critics were concerned it would run out of money. Until this afternoon, when lawmakers began voting for a bailout. Keeping everyone from dealers to junkyards, very busy.

"It's gonna be next week before we really start to see an influx of the vehicles coming from the cash for clunkers program. But I've definitely got a lot of them lined up with just about ever dealer in the central Virginia area," said Troy Webber of Chesterfield Auto Parts.

The program's survival - also has the secondary effect, of loading the metal market with all kinds of recyclable materials.

"The reality is, it's probably gonna be the only source for our end-life vehicle cars for probably the next month or so," Webber said.

But before the old clunkers end up in the scrap heap - they've got to be traded in. And buyers now have at least two more days to make a deal.

"Time is kinda sensitive for this. So if people are thinking about turning in their clunker for a new vehicle, I would suggest they act pretty soon," said Webber.

While the White House says the program will last through the weekend, buyers may find that dealers are skeptical to accept trades until this new money is fully approved. The Senate may schedule a vote as early as Monday.

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