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The fickle nature of the American consumer is on obvious display in car dealerships across the country right now. With the government sponsoring a giant garage cleaning through the CARS ("cash for clunkers") program, people are taking old vehicles and turning them into new ones, with a fancy $4,500 check attached. Now that CARS has been active for a short while, early numbers are in: the trucks and SUVs that were so incredibly popular just a few years ago are being dumped by the thousands for smaller, more efficient vehicles.

According to Autobytel.com, which is basing their findings on which vehicles are being searched for, the Top Ten list of clunkers being traded in is made up only of large trucks, save for a minivan, the Dodge Grand Caravan, in eighth place. Whether or not these ten vehicles are the one most often actually being taken to the dealers, it's likely that the reality is at least similar. Last week, Hyundai said that 83 percent of the vehicles being traded in are trucks, SUVs or vans and 86 percent of the new vehicles being bought are passenger cars.

CARS is proving popular. As of 10 a.m. this morning, the $1 billion fund had an estimated $779 million left for all vehicles (except for CAT3 trucks). Read more recent news about CARS here and here.

[Source: USAToday]
Photo by dno1967. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.




Autobytel.com's list:
  1. Ford F-Series
  2. Ford Explorer
  3. Chevrolet C/K/Silverado
  4. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  5. Dodge Ram
  6. Chevrolet Blazer
  7. Jeep Cherokee
  8. Dodge Grand Caravan
  9. Dodge Dakota
  10. Ford Ranger


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      http://www.grist.org/article/why-the-health-of-the-auto-industry-matters-to-you

      "Auto sales account for 20 percent of U.S. retail sales and generate tax revenues of more than $10 billion, so the plunge in auto sales is affecting your state's treasury right now."

      I just made $10 Billion up, I didn't know it was the actual annual Tax Revenue for our 13 million americans working in auto industry.

      People working generates taxes, thats the idea behind Reganomics. Tax cuts to the rich makes it where they can supply more jobs thus more tax revenue.

      How is this different?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great! The taxpayers get to pay for the dumbasses who bought a SUV they didn't need!

      Man I love this country.
        • 5 Years Ago
        the thing is that for the majority of the clunker owners are not the original owners, those people have long moved on to something else and newer, people who buy new cars typically don't keep them until they are worth less then 4500 thus the people who are typically trading in the clunkers are not the original owners.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Seriously...these fkers need to rot in Hell.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, for those of you city dwellers that don't know much, most people around these parts keep an old truck around for doing hauling work around the house. I kept an old '85 F250 around that sat 99.5% of the time. But, for $800, who cares. Beats trying to find somebody's truck to borrow when you need one, or renting. It was nothing more than a wheelbarrow for the road.

        So, my guess is a bunch of upper middle class folks are thinking, shit $1000 trucks are everywhere, why not take the government on its $4500 hand out? Won't do much for the average fleet fuel economy, because they're just gonna go out and buy another $800 truck to keep around the house that was never really in the driving pool anyway.

        But, thats the problem with trying out command economics. You never get what you want.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Tax cuts mean you keep more of what YOU earn. This simply involves printing money and giving it away. Reagan's problem was he did not decrease spending, he increased it. We can't keep spending money we don't have, it's a simple concept, whether we spend it on wars or giving handouts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well you would be correct. Don't know where I pulled out 1 million car sales? Maybe that was the projected amount with original CARS plan with a $4 Billion price tag.

        25 - 30 Million is accurate on average annual car sales.

        So it would help produce maybe $1 Billion in tax revenue. The Fed tax I am stating comes from people working that otherwise would not have been. The designers, manufacturers, truckers, salesman, ad agencies, financiers, list goes on.

        Stymieing the car market would be good, and giving consumers confidence that now is the time for them to buy, considering they get a $4,500 discount, I would say thats a good thing.

        Over 40,000 people have partaken in the program. But as another stated, considering the amount is $1 Billion, thats chump change considering the full amount of budget.

        Now considering we think $1 Billion is not that much is a bad thing. I am for a balanced budget, but if unemployment reaches 20% there will be no budget. So I say cut $1 Billion from Military spending, which is annually around $50 billion, and do things that give people jobs.

        I am a proponent of New Deal Style Ideas. Its ok not to be, but the statements I have read here and on other blogs makes this thing out to be something it is not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I see there is no use... My point is we sale 1 Million cars per year. If $10 Billion were used to sale 2.5 Million over a years time, we would have an increase in car sales by 150% which would result in a $25 Billion year revenue in car industry, thus adding $15 Billion tax revenue. Thus it pays back the $10 Billion investment, and adds $5 Billion to the pool to which you use the next year for another 1.25 Million cars sold and pay as you go from there?

        Is that not what would happen?

        Please use real numbers and thoughts as opposed to ideologue.

        This is your chance to convince me to not do the program, and as I am a registered voter, its also your chance to grow your cause. Make your pitch.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Assuming you sales projections are accurate, which I doubt, (you are talking about 25 million car sales annually) I don't get where the 15 billion in tax renvenue comes from? Car Company profits? All sales tax go to the states, not the Fed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Duh? If you look at the list of approved vehicles it's like 80% trucks/vans.
      • 5 Years Ago
      One more thing, we spend over $660 Billion on the millitary this year (not $50B)...

      The sad little fact that nobody wants to talk about is that even if we eliminate ALL non-millitary discretionary spending (including the stimulus spending) and TARP, we still can not balance the budget. If you eliminate all FBI, DOE, EPA, DOT, NHSTA, SEC, Coast Guard, HUD, NASA, FAA, FDIC, Health and Human Services, FDA, Agriculture, Infrastructure spending, Education spending, earmarks, etc. (all non-military descretionary spending), the deficit will still be over $1 trillion dollars this year. And since many of those agencies are essential to the functioning of the economy as well as future growth (like education), their elimination would have overall negative economic impact- which would reduce revenue and thereby increase the deficit.

      Just Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid (primarily goes to nursing homes), VA Benifits, Military, Interest on the debt, Federal Pensions, and other required spending will consume all Federal Revenue and then some...

      The largest chunk of the federal budget goes to health care (Medicare, Medicaid, Military/Vetran health care, Federal employees, Federal pensioners, etc.) and our government currently spends more per person than any government in the world on health care (even though many of their systems cover everyone)... so the best place to try to cut costs would be there.

      But to balance the federal budget, we really need to increase federal revenue. And the best way to do that is to grow the economy....
        • 5 Years Ago
        Isn't most of this year's budget deficit caused by the Wall Street Bailout of Billionaire's? We should have saved those top 10 Wall Street firms, and then DISMANTLED them and sold them off for their parts. But the right wing wacko's wouldn't let us "Nationalize" them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I question the newsworthiness of this "analysis." And the tagline "Who wants an old SUV? No one but Uncle Sam" shows how phrases can "spin" a perspective.

      1. The objective of the program is to get people to trade older lower mileage vehicles for new ones which get significantly higher mileage. For the most part, this means a larger vehicle being traded for a smaller one. Did you really expect someone to trade in their 1995 Corolla for a 2009 version? Is the mileage difference even large enough to qualify?

      2. Different perspective: Just because trucks and SUVs comprise the top 10 of trades does not necessarily translate into no one wanting them. It just means that they are more likely to qualify, and those who were considering trading were simply given more incentive to do so with this program. There are plenty SUV owners who had no intention of trading, and plenty who still may not be able to afford a new car even with the program's incentives.

      From your perspective-steering (anti-SUV bias laden) tag line, one would expect to see no more older trucks and SUVs on the road anymore. Guess again.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If $4500 attracts that many people, why don't they just lower it to $3500?

      Same effect, less spending.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hardly a surprise. This program should be called cash for trucks. You need such bad MPG that you almost need a truck to get mileage that bad.
        • 5 Years Ago
        this comment is about the comment for a 1990 accord getting only 20 mpg .... kind of odd cause my 1989 accord gets 29, it is a 4dr LXi
        • 5 Years Ago
        agreed...a 1990 Honda Accord that gets 20 doesn't count...so no help to me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly. So few cars qualify, it's silly to call it CARS.

        The more important question -- how many trucks/SUVs versus cars are being BOUGHT on the CARS program?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Do you really consider the Ranger, the Cherokee, and the Blazer to be large trucks? Pray tell, then, what is a compact truck? The Ranger is the only truck still sold in the States that hasn't moved up to a midsize, and the 4WD I6 Cherokee was smaller and one pound lighter than today's FWD I4 Escape.

      I hate to break it to you, but a Peapod with a shopping cart strapped to it is not a compact truck. It's just a slow shopping cart.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Would this mean that if they put 10 Billion in the pot for a similar program that 2.5 Million cars could be sold? What would the oil demand look like if 2.5 million trucks were traded in for 2.5 million honda civics?

      People whining about this program need to check themselves. I wouldn't doubt that the program expands and is offered again in the spring. Tax revenue for the people building the cars most likely will pay for the program by itself.

      I think its a win win win situation.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly, where DOES the money come from? We print it, great way to run a country. The planet will be safe, but we will be bankrupt. How do we know the folks trading in old trucks did not buy a more fuel effecient truck?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't tell me someone forgot to water the money tree? Damn!
        • 5 Years Ago
        "...if they put 10 Billion in the pot for a similar program... "

        Where does the money come from? It's created out of thin air by printing presses. Actions like this continue to erode our US dollar.
      • 5 Years Ago
      blaker,

      your sales numbers are about twice the US sales average. Last year 13 million were sold. 15 million are typical. 10 million were projected for this year... so 1 million additional is a 10% increase.

      The good part about this is unlike tax cuts (if they spend every dollar of their tax cut) or some other government programs that result in $1 in spending for every dollar in the best case, this program gets people to spend multiple times the incentive. As credit is still tight and lenders are timid, irresponsible buyers will have a hard time to take advantage of this. If you figure that ~1/4 of every dollar spent in this country eventually ends up as tax revenue, any car taking the full credit that costs $18,000 (4 times the credit) will stimulate the economy enough to recoup the cost of the program. Then add in the economic impact on the salvage industry, that we the taxpayers have a vested financial interest in the success of some of the automakers, that this is keeping thousands of dollars over the lifetime of each vehicle from being shipped overseas for oil, the military cost associated with some of those oil countries... this program makes perfect economic sense as a way to stimulate the economy.

      BTW, the OICA estimates that the Auto Industry in the US contributes ~$90 billion in public revenue a year (64B Euros)
      http://oica.net/category/economic-contributions/facts-and-figures/
      • 5 Years Ago
      This program costs the equivalent of about 1 1/2 days of the tax cuts put into place last April (the largest portion of the stimulus bill). 1 Billion is not a lot of money from a national perspective (~$3 per person). I have no doubt that talking about this program is stimulating magazines and other publication revenue alone more than that day and a half of tax cuts has stimulated the economy.
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