August 11th, 2009
03:06 PM ET
9 years ago

Interest in Cash for Clunkers sputters

NEW YORK ( - After sparking an initial rush to showrooms, the Cash for Clunkers program seems to be running out of fuel.

Interest in Cash for Clunkers has fallen 15% since its peak, and car purchase intent could fall to pre-Clunkers levels by next week, an auto research group said Tuesday.

Under the Clunkers program, which launched July 27, vehicles purchased after July 1 are eligible for refund vouchers worth $3,500 to $4,500 on traded-in cars with a fuel economy rating of 18 miles per gallon or less.

The program proved wildly popular, running through its initial $1 billion in its first week and leading lawmakers to approve an additional $2 billion in funding on August 7.

But interest in the program peaked on July 29, and demand has waned, according to the report from

The report, which cited Internet shopping data, said if current trends continue auto purchase intent will fall back to pre-Cash for Clunker levels by August 20.

The original money set aside for Clunkers "was very low in relation to the size of the auto market," said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at, in a prepared statement. "This created a Gold Rush mentality where consumers hurried to take advantage before funding ran out."

The additional $2 billion in funding removed the urgency to participate, Krebs said.

Still, the report predicted auto sales will improve over the summer as customers bargain-hunt before new models hit the showroom.

"The real risk is this fall," said Jessica Caldwell, a director at, adding that that economy will have to "have picked up to keep sales at current levels. "

Filed under: Cash for Clunkers • Congress
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Gene

    The interest peaked in the end of July, when the announcement was made that the 1 billion had expired and before the announcement that an additional 2 billion was added.

    And, if the interest really has gone down.. not a big deal.. that 2 billion was set aside for this program. If it doesn't get used, then the money can go back into the pool for other things.

    August 11, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Roxanne

    Folks are still interested, the CARS website has changed the MPG figures. Many 'clunkers' don't qualify now. I have a 94 Volvo that gets about 10 city & 13 highway MPG...according to the website it gets 19 combined MPG. I think not, but it takes my car out of the equation.....

    August 11, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Fed Up

    when will there be a program for the responsible tax payers of the country who are paying for all this excessive waste?

    August 11, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. mobster

    Another big waste of money, all this program amounted to was an appeasement to the uaw in exchange for votes.

    August 11, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Proud Member..Party of No

    lolol...chalk up another failure for the Worst President Ever.

    August 11, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. IndyVoter

    Demand waned because people were sure if the program was going to be funded. Now that they are sure that it will be funded it will pick back up again. CNN stop trying to make a story that suggests Pres. Obama can't manage his programs. And stop biting every lead that Obama haters hand you.

    August 11, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Peggy - TX

    Cash for clunkers worked well. President Obama's measure to stop the collapse of the economy is working. I have absolute confidence in President Obama.

    Thank GOD for the Democrats and that party of the stupid for the Wealthy and powerful is not still in power.

    August 11, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. IndyVoter

    I meant ... 'weren't sure'.

    August 11, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. howie

    It is hard to believe that $1B only boughgt 23,000 cars. If that info is correct, we are paying $41,304 for each clunker. We would have been better off to purchase a camry or chevy and give it to the clunker owners, tht way we could save more than $100,000.000 or more than $8,000 per clunker owner. Where did the other money go??????

    August 11, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Well, it could only last so long, and it worked very well for while it did. It'll be hilarious to see the GOPers try to twist this into some kind of failiure, but the reality is, we could not have know how many people would be interested and, once the people interested have participated, then it's run its course and did its job. If all of the $2B ends up not needed, then so much the better. It's win-win.

    August 11, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. not a Jackson or a Palin fan

    That's because all the decent paying jobs went to China during the Bush administration. There's no one left who can afford to buy anything.

    August 11, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. Flash in the Pan

    First, they underestimated the initial popularity of this giveaway program... Then overcompesated by overcommitting too much of your money...

    And we expect these people to rewrite our healthcare program?!?!

    August 11, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. donttreadonme

    A "stimulus program" that actually worked for a little while anyway.

    Too bad only 47% of all new cars purchased were American cars that will help Detroit.

    It is clear that the majority of Americans are now offically too stupid to really help ourselves.

    Supporting the US economy will help us all. Even if your are "well off" you are going to pay one way or another.

    August 11, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. Pete Wheatstraw

    Ha, you wish!

    I'm just waiting for the weekend to trade in my clunker.

    I just hope there's still enough money on Saturday.

    August 11, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. cedgar

    what did they think would happen?
    They were told no more money was needed!!! (by taxes payers like me
    I bet they spend the money any how WHO WANTS TO BET WITH ME
    and of course we will be told some bs story.
    I wonder what "clunker" program they will think of next?
    I really think our politicians all need to go back to school and learn how
    to balance a checkbook.


    August 11, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  16. Susan

    It may just be that the dealers do not have enough cars in stock now to feed the need. What are they basing this on? Showroom traffic, or requests for the funds?

    August 11, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. Jason

    Obama and Pelosi overspend again. It should have been stopped after the first billion. Two more billion was not needed. By next week people visiting showrooms will be the same as pre clunkers level. That means the objective of the clunkers of bringing people into dealerships has run out.

    Once again the dems overspent and any dissent of this overspending was branded as the party of no even if the dissent was right.

    August 11, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  18. Deb

    Hmm, " Cash for Clunkers " Could we be talking about the government politicians ?
    Someone like Michael Steele, Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby ?

    August 11, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. Melissa

    That would be called "Republican fear mongering winning out". So tired of the weak and foolish of this country falling for every idiotic thing that comes out of a Republicans mouth no matter how many times the Republicans have proven that they are morally reprehensible liars.

    August 11, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. Troy

    Duh, what did they think would happen? You knew this wasn't going to last. So we cleared some cars off of lots. Now what? You cannot force feed the economy folks. The economy is not ready to sustain car buying yet. No matter what these crazy democrats do, you cannot expect a crazy promo like this to suddenly breathe life into the auto industry. You have created a drug for would be car buyers. Those who haven't acted are going to just sit back and wait for another dose of that drug, hoping it's a bigger hit next time. Wake up Washington and stop creating crazy, unsustainable programs that will not have any impact on the overall economy.

    August 11, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Pat F

    What a fiasco! It should have been called the American Taxpayer Cash to Japanese Companies program!

    All those working cars that people could have used to drive to work that have been destroyed and dumped into landfills. And all the program did was move car sales for a six month period into a two week period. Not one single sale was made that wouldn't have been made anyway. And people could buy gas guzzlers getting 22 mpg with this program. This program has been a total diaster and money waster.

    And this is the crowd that the Democrats want to rehaul health care?

    August 11, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  22. Mississippi Mike

    There are only so many people who can afford to take out a new car loan and I think they've already done it. Good job messing up yet another set of handouts.

    August 11, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    I wonder if anyone will ever look to see whether this accomplished anything, or just blew away some of our money.

    Of course Obama faithful will praise his name but thay have always been a little short on facts and follow-up. Without follow up I think we can put this in his broken promise list for poor spending choice.

    August 11, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. Deep Throat

    Who's going to be buying cars when this goverment give away stops. What are salesmen to do then? Go look for another job while their car dealerships fold up.

    August 11, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. Predicta

    so much for the quick fix for the auto industry. Of course this will increase the sales numbers for the month so Obama can herald that the economy has turned around. Where are the jobs. Without jobs, there will be no recovery. Period.

    August 11, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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