Post Cash-for-Clunkers Sales Suck

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

No surprise there. Any automotive analyst worth their salt could have told you—did tell you—that Uncle Sam’s $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program was going to suck the oxygen right out of the showroom. Really, this is one for Johnny Carson. HOW BAD ARE THEY? They’re so bad that salesmen who boast, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!,” know they’re being ironic. Pause. The Associated Press doesn’t “do” irony. (Nor, apparently, sales stats.) Still, their article on September’s new car sales drought is not without merit, suffused as it is with Glengarry Glen Ross-type quotes from starving dealers, caught in the no-man’s land between no inventory and no customers. Here’s the stripper version . . .

“We’re getting some traffic, but my business is a long way from healthy,” said the longtime salesman. “We suspect it’s going to be 90 days before we get back to any kind of normalcy.”

“It was good while it lasted,” said Phil Warren, sales manager at Toyota Direct in Columbus, Ohio. “Now we’re a little bit concerned about what happens next. The program may have just taken a lot of people out of the market.”

“We were already in a really mediocre year,” Kelleher said. “We’re just kind of back into that mode again.”

“We’re back into that let’s-wait-and-see mode,” he said. “People aren’t 100 percent sure about the economy yet.”

“That is always a difficult retail period for us. If you see numbers that suggest the market is down in September, it may be absolutely normal,” he said, adding that he isn’t worried about the rest of the year.

“I think there’s more demand out there yet, and the right dealers and the right products will bring those customers out.”

“Most dealers are in a cash-flow crunch because of the federal government not paying up on this,” he said.

“The CFC program definitely had an impact for a brief period of time, but it was like throwing a life jacket on a sinking boat,” said Dan Mahan, desk manager of Riverside Auto Mall with Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan outlets in Marquette, Mich.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Anonymous Anonymous on Sep 14, 2009
    @P71_crownvic: Though I’m tempted to ignore all your posts based on the predictable truth about Ford, you occasionally sneak one under the wire that has nothing to do with Ford at all, and I quite agree with. This is one of those times. Fixed Bancho.
  • Dster Dster on Sep 15, 2009

    This makes me ill. You know what? To artificially spur retail sales this quarter, we should have people turn in their old furniture, burn it, and then let them buy new furniture with government subsidies! Cash for Clunkers is nothing more than a modern day version of the Broken Window Fallacy and it hurts the poor more than any other group.

  • Inside Looking Out Just put ICE there. Real thing is always better that simulation.
  • Inside Looking Out It still cannot oversimulate Telluride.
  • Jeff Doesn't appear to need much and it would be worth the asking price. Keep the straight 6 and keep it all original it is hard to find an almost 70 year old survivor like this. You are not going to race in this car it is meant for cruising and for smaller car shows. Just fix the mechanics including the brakes give it a good wax job and detailing.
  • VoGhost Hmmm. Odd that exactly zero Tesla dealers signed this lobbying letter.
  • El scotto Great, now CR is aiding confirmation bias.