Both J.P. Jones of Fremont Motors in Powell and Marty Bratt of Garvin Motors said they had made sales under the program, and both agreed that it was a benefit for their customers. Neither dealership had received any rebate money by last week, …
The national “Cash for Clunkers” campaign has generated a few sales for local new car dealers, but until they see some money from the government, they aren't calling the program a success.
Both J.P. Jones of Fremont Motors in Powell and Marty Bratt of Garvin Motors said they had made sales under the program, and both agreed that it was a benefit for their customers. Neither dealership had received any rebate money by last week, however, so they weren't sure how valuable the program would be to their businesses.
“I haven't been paid yet, so I won't get too cocky,” Jones said.
Under the federal program, officially called “Car allowance rebate system,” owners of qualifying older model cars may purchase a new car that gets better gas mileage than the old one with the assistance of a $3,500 to $4,500 rebate from the federal government. The dealership must sell a car, permanently disable the “clunker” traded in, and then submit the paperwork to receive the rebate.
That paperwork is a big part of the problem, Jones said. Some paperwork he submitted has been returned due to errors, and had to be resubmitted.
“It's extremely difficult to make sure you do everything right,” Jones said. “There are a lot of loopholes.”
Bratt said he was concerned about the funding for the program, which generated more interest nationwide than was anticipated. The original funding approved by Congress ran out quickly, and Bratt said he felt representatives of the Obama administration promised additional funding that might not be delivered by Congress.
“I'm concerned about comments by people who don't have the right or power to provide that funding,” Bratt said.
If that funding doesn't come through, dealers could lose a great deal of money, Bratt said, giving as an example a dealer in California who stood to lose nearly $2 million if the money doesn't come through.
Curt Perl of Curt's Cars in Powell sells no new cars, so doesn't benefit from the program at all, but he is concerned that the program will eliminate many usable cars that could provide affordable transportation.
“It will take a half-million lower-priced cars off the market,” Perl said. “They're actually hurting the poor people in need of a vehicle.”
Perl said he had seen older cars traded in under the program, and while some of them were definitely clunkers, some were good cars.
“It's a shame to see them get crushed,” Perl said.
Perl also sees the program as unfair to dealerships like his, and doesn't think it will help the economy in the long run, because “it's a drop in the bucket in terms of the number of cars sold.”
“The worst part is the government is helping just the new car dealers,” he said. “They're not supposed to do that.”
Both Perl and Bratt wonder if the program will be of long-term benefit to the economy, because buyers will be taking on debt. Perl said he believes there may be a lot of repossessions a few months down the road when customers can't meet payments.
Despite his reservations, though, both Jones and Bratt said their dealerships have no choice but to participate in the program, and that it can benefit their customers.
“Anything that helps the customer is a benefit,” Bratt said. “If (the program) is there, and if it will help our customers, we'll participate. I want to do the best to help the customer the most I can.”