Cash For Clunkers, R.I.P.


As noted below, cash for clunkers is deader than my brother's mid-'70s Vega after about 18,000 miles.

Somehow in the bizarro world of government, the program was initially hailed as a huge success because it immediately become three times more expensive than it was expected to be and hence ran through a pile of dough that was supposed to last until November 1.

Hanging out signs that say "Hey Kids, Free Money!" does motivate some people to come running. But now the money's all gone and all were left is, well $3 billion more in debt and the ultimate statement on why the program was misconceived all along, courtesy of Reason.tv:


The automotive site Edmunds.com has noted that C4C helped push buyers most likely to buy in the first place. And it helped push down the need for dealers to offer the incentives they had been using to lure customers in, so dealers "are enjoying a 20 percent increase in gross profit per sale involving a clunker trade-in since the program launched." The site had also noted that interest in the program actually started to wane almost immediately, a product of the originally limited amount ($1 billion) and the fact that only the most-motivated buyers were willing to swap out a clunker (probably with no payment) for a new car with a monthly payment).

In any case, USA Today reports GM and Chrysler, having experienced short-lived sales boosts, are ready to go to their old ways, which is producing more cars than anyone wants to buy.

Gleeful automakers are reacting to the cash-for-clunkers-driven spike in car demand with increased production plans for the third and fourth quarters.

That comes even as one leading industry researcher says the rebate program's appeal is waning and there are few signs a broad recovery has begun.

Oh those gleeful automakers, so full glee and autos! Is there anything they can't do wrong? More here.