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The CARS program, informally known as “Cash for Clunkers”, ended Monday, August 24th, 2009. Originally slated to cost $1 billion, Congress increased the total funds available to $3 billion due to overwhelming consumer response. The White House stated that nearly all funds had been exhausted by the end of the program, with rebate requests totaling $2.877 billion.
Touted as a success by environmentalists and economists, the “Cash for Clunkers” program removed 690,114 older vehicles with poor gas mileage from the roads, replacing them with newer fuel-efficient cars. The beneficial effects of this government program have been obvious in the automotive industry, with both General Motors and Ford announcing increases in production for the latter half of this year. “Cash for Clunkers” provided an incentive for consumers to purchase new vehicles, and the increase in demand is creating more jobs in the previously struggling automotive sector. Toyota, General Motors, Ford, and Honda topped the list of auto makers with the most “Cash for Clunkers” transactions, together netting over 64 percent of total rebate applications.
The environmental impact of this program is equally impressive, with an estimated 58 percent improvement in fuel economy expected due to the trade-ins. Most “Cash for Clunkers” trade-ins were trucks or SUVs, while the new vehicles purchased were primarily passenger cars. The White House reported that the cars purchased under this program averaged fuel economy 19 percent higher than the average of all new cars currently produced, making the “Cash for Clunkers” program a big win for environmentalists as well.