Local Dealerships Call "Cash for Clunkers" Success; Many Still Waiting For Government Reimbursements

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

The government backed "Cash for Clunkers" program officially ended Monday -- and local dealerships across the board say it did its job to boost the automotive industry.

Federal officials say as of Monday morning, roughly 625,000 transactions had been turned into U.S. Department of Transportation for processing.

In Grand Junction, eight dealerships participated in the program -- giving the owners of qualifying vehicles up to $4500 off the price of a new, more fuel efficient one.

Grand Junction Subaru owner Ron Bubar says it's been a while since he's had a month like this.

"I'd estimate that our sales have gone up fifty to seventy-five percent over what a normal month would be," said Bubar.

The reason --

"We're probably going to have one of the best Augusts we've ever had and it's directly attributed to the Cash for Clunkers program," said Bubar.

Down the street, Modern Classic Motors -- a Suzuki dealer -- says the program has been pretty good to them as well.

"We've sold out of practically all our new Suzukis," said Flip Hawkins, Business Manager at Modern Classic Motors.

Hawkins says that's 25 to 30 vehicles in one month. Other participating dealers tell 11 News they saw similar results:

Western Slope Auto -- 65 cars
Ed Bozarth -- 60 cars
Grand West Kia -- 50 cars
Fuoco Motors -- 63 cars
Grand Junction Chrysler -- 25 cars
Grand Valley Hyundai -- 35 cars

"I think it was the most effective stimulus package by the current administration to date," said Bubar.

While the dealerships say there's no denying the program did what it was intended to do, they admit the stacks of paperwork they've had to file and the lengthy amount of time they've waiting for the government to reimburse them has been frustrating.

"We're still waiting to be reimbursed," said Hawkins.

"We're in a good cash position where we're able to wait until the government gets through it," said Bubar. "But there's some dealerships out there hurting and they really do need their money."

Modern Classic Motors says it's because of all the red tape and the fact that many of their customers did not qualify for the program that it launched its own version.

"We call it Cash for Junkers," said Hawkins.

The dealership, which also sells many used cars, is offering up to $4500 above the trade in value of any vehicle that will go towards the purchase of another one. Just like the Clunkers program, the staff says it's been keeping cars moving out of their lot.

"We're going to go at least another week from [Monday]," said Hawkins. "We figure we've got enough funds to keep that going."

Monday, the U.S. Department of Transportation decided to extend the deadline for dealerships to file claims. Dealers will now have until 12:00pm Tuesday to file the paperwork they need to get repaid for the Clunkers credits. Officials say the extension is due to an overwhelming demand on the computer system set up to handle the claims, that actually shut down the site temporarily Monday afternoon.

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