• Nov 13, 2009
While there is no question that Obama's Cash-for-Clunkers program accelerated vehicle sales this summer, a new report by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute shows the big winners were from Japan, not Detroit.

According to the study, nearly 85 percent of the trade-ins were from General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, yet they only sold 39 percent of the new cars moved off the lots. On the other hand, 8 percent of the trade-ins came from Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, manufacturers who accounted for 41 percent of new car purchases.

While these numbers may be justified by the large quantity of inefficient domestic trucks and SUVs that were deemed clunkers, customer loyalty also seems to have taken a big shift. About 68 percent of owners who traded in Toyota, Honda, or Nissan vehicles replaced them with another from one of those Japanese brands, while only 43 percent of consumers who traded in Detroit steel purchased another General Motors, Ford, or Chrysler product. The program cost the U.S. taxpayers about $3 billion.

[Source: USA Today | Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty]


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  • 62 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      This post doesn't make much sense. It says that Cash for Clunkers helped the Japanese way more than Detroit. The fact that "nearly 85 percent of the trade-ins were from General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler" is entirely irrelevant to the question of "who it helped more". The only relevant information for that statement is "General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler ... sold 39 percent of the new cars moved off the lots. On the other hand, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, ... accounted for 41 percent of new car purchases".

      So, 39% of cars sold came from US manufacturers, and 41% came from Japanese manufacturers. This means that Japanese companies benefited slightly (2%) more than US companies. It does not mean that it "helped the Japanese *way more* than Detroit". Did autoblog just mess up the analysis here, or are they involved in spin to disparage the Democrat in office?
        • 5 Years Ago
        well, it means big3 lost customers to japanese automakers; so yes, it does help them more
        also difference between 39 and 41pct should be expressed more like +5pct (you have to think of those 39 like it is the base, i.e. 100pct, 41 is 105pct)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Of course most people bought Japanese cars, they didn't want to make the same mistake again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Dumas, get off it already. You should work for autoblog with your overly dramatic spin on things. Grab a cozy blanket, get a martini and snuggle up on the couch for your Young and Restless reruns.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Until the ones who buyed a Toyota/Lexus and the accelerator do something unorthodox
        http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerindex?id=8990979 could we see some folks trying to trade their Toyota for a Hyundai soon? ;-)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is that a Mitsubishi 3000GT beside the orange GMC and in front of the white Ford Aerostar? Bummer. :-(
        • 5 Years Ago
        Either that or a Dodge Stealth. Not all of them were good cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, let's make some light of the situation... Many (not all by any means but many) of the clunkers traded were the very cars that gave GM/Ford/Chrysler such bad reputations. People who are still steering clear of the American car stereotypes of inferior aesthetics and inferior quality are/were forced to look at these cars still on the road every day. Getting some of the worst cars ever built off the road is a great step toward changing people's general opinion of the big 3. That is very important in capturing a customer base who has wanted nothing to do with "typical American cars" in the past. Please don't firebomb me, I don't mean every American car ever built, that's far from what I think. I really mean only a select bunch of cars that many of us have in mind, I promise.
      JDM Life
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'll take the LS400 in the back and get a paint job and some OEM Lexus rims and lower the car some.
      • 5 Years Ago
      why would you buy another clunker?
      (referring to GM/Chrysler)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lets applaud all the other American corporations that moved their operations overseas because all the profits go back to America. I'm sure we won't miss them employing workers here.
      • 5 Years Ago
      that wasnt the purpose of C4C. it was to stimulate the economy, not necessarily the US auto industry.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thank you @turbo-quattro & tuna.

        You are both absolutely right.

        People also need to seriously stop trying to make this into some ridiculous political issue.

        Would you prefer that nothing was done and everything remained stagnant? I am guessing on the political attacking standpoint they would actually prefer that so they would have a reason to argue about something else. In other words we will never here the end of this and it will be made out as the biggest disasters in USA history, when in fact it's quite the opposite.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Right. And people need to stop thinking about the economy in the same way they think about climate change. Weather systems and atmospheric trends are not localized by country or continent. What happens in one place can initiate change elsewhere. Same goes for flow of money, globally.

        Besides, on a local level, C4C kept the folks at the dealers working. For small towns and cities with dealerships that are several generations old, that's a big deal.

        Plus, C4C has already taken place. It's in the past. "Quit yer belly aching".
      • 5 Years Ago
      most of the "Japanese" vehicles sold were probably manufactured here in the US.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hoorah! Glad we're keeping all those high-talent, white-collar, high-paying manufacturing jobs! Goodbye, engineering, research, and development! Who needs ya?!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I guess.

        A lot of people in my part of the country (Green Bay, WI) are incredibly biased and think anything domestic is the devil.

        The number one selling car brand in the state is still Chevrolet, though. But I guess the rednecks can't really use a Honda Civic to tow their supplies up to the cabin for deer hunting - way too much beer needs to be hauled for THAT purpose - so I guess that makes some sense.

        God damned rednecks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Who cares if money goes to Japan, selling cars is not a race. There is no sliding scale, Japan doing bad doesnt mean that America is doing good.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nice coment.

        Problem is all the profits and high paying jobs (that immediately impact the economy, by spending new moeny, no paying debt).... are at their corporate HQs--Japan.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Most of them made here? No. Honda makes most of the cars they sell in the us right here in the us. Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Kia and Hyundai import most of their cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Fixitstop: the profits go to the owners of Toyota, which could be anyone here - nothing's stopping you from buying Toy stock.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Alex, check your facts. Toyota manufactures a majority of their vehicles stateside.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I am tired of this Taxes going to Japan argument. Corporations routinely avoid paying taxes, they also keep money in the country where they manufacture for improvements and R&D. What matters is where the product is manufactured, where people are hired. As long as car is made in USA like Civic and not is Mexico like Fusion, buying a Civic is much better for USA.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ah but you forget, If the money is going to save Jap companies, and not going to the US car makers then the US car makers will shrink or close the doors for good.

        Then all your cars belong to japan.

        So while it might be great to have some people employed, I'd hazard to say that the US car makers probably have way more US employees than the Jap companies do.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Could have told you that!!! I loved the program, just don't think it was though out all the way through....
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let's see . . . I paid $24,000 per vehicle to keep an overweight smoker in a cush job in Detroit because they will vote for Obama's socialism.

      Something's unethical there.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My son is driving a Toyota Camry with 100,000 miles on it, and he treats it like a jeep, or a tractor. It has never given a moment's trouble and it cost about $16K. There is nothing on the American market to beat that. And yet, we are the ones who spend billions of dollars testing, and engineering and crapping around and we can't top that, or even come close. I drive a 7 cylinder Cadillac! I thought if I ever got into a Cadillac, I would be fixed for life. Not so. And I can't find anyone who can fix the piece of crap. I'm going back to a Camry!
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