When the government's Cash for Clunkers program returned 4,026 orders on its first full day of availability, some were surprised by the speed with which the sales booster took off. After only five days, the program seems to have picked up steam rather than lost it: 22,782 trade-ins have funneled through dealer lots in the 3-4 days since Monday when the program began. So far, dealers have requested $95.9 million in reimbursement money from the government, or about 10% of the funds that were supposed to keep the program running into November. The cars.gov website currently shows $75 million left for CAT3 trucks and $779 million out of $1 billion for everything else.

So far, the average rebate value is reportedly $4,209, which means most customers are eligible for the $4,500 voucher that requires a new vehicle purchase with a 10+ mpg improvement verses the model being traded in. Tuesday was the busiest day so far, with $51 million worth of reimbursements filed by dealers, and there were $27 million filed on Wednesday.

The National Automotive Dealers Association says the program will likely run out of money well before the November deadline. If C4C continues at its current pace, the program could end as early as September. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, some 23,000 dealers have submitted registrations and 19,328 have been approved.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]