Cash for Clunkers has helped automakers sell more cars while also clearing out some excess inventory on dealer lots. But the sales boost of C4C is only expected to last so long, as many analysts expect the program to run its entire budget by Labor Day. Does that mean the months ahead will revert to the putrid car sales of the first six months of the year? J.D. Power doesn't seem to think so.

Gary Dilts, senior vice president at J.D. Power & Associates, told Reuters that the company sees sales jumping to 11.5 million units in 2010, up 15% versus 2009's expected 10 million sales. Several factors go into J.D. Power's predicted upswing in car sales, including an improved credit market and consumer confidence, in addition to healthier financial markets. Dilts also sees some good news for the remainder of 2009, with improved August sales of 12 million units on an annualized basis, and up to 200,000 more car sales for 2009 than were originally predicted.

While 11.5 million units would be a huge improvement versus the abysmal sales we've seen so far this year, it's still peanuts compared to sales numbers from earlier in the decade. 2008 was no picnic either, yet sales still hit 13.2 million units. In the end, J.D. Power is only coming up with a very educated guess, and the number could easily swing higher or lower depending on how the recession plays out over the next year and a half.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd | Photo by Scott Olson/Getty]

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