"Cash for Clunkers," the federal program designed to encourage drivers to trade in their older, gas guzzling cars for more fuel efficient ones has ended.
"I believe the program was to incentivize and initiate more new car business in our country," said BMW South County General Manager Jeff Gerken. "And it absolutely did that."
Around the nation, hundreds of thousands of cars have been turned in for newer more environmentally friendly cars. Talk to most local car dealers, and they'll tell you "cash for clunkers" was a huge success.
"Our showroom floor was filled with people very anxious to buy cars that hadn't been in the market for over 15 to 20 years," said Kearny Mesa Ford General Manager Doug Davis. "And it brought out a high quality buyer as well, we were very excited."
Davis said his dealership took in over 100 clunkers. He said the added benefit was people without clunkers also came in for new vehicles.
"We had a lot of people come in who their neighbor just turned in their car for a clunker and they saw a brand new car in their driveway...spurred them to come down," he said.
Across town at the BMW dealership, fewer clunkers came in. But, Gerken is still happy with the results.
"We saw exactly two clunkers come in during that period of time but it stimulated business," said Gerken. "We had folks come in with what they thought would be clunkers and want to buy a BMW. And when they discovered they weren't clunkers we ended up taking the cars in trade and selling them new cars."
Both dealerships ended the clunker program before they officially needed to do so, to assure they got the paperwork into the transportation department before the deadline. That deadline was extended Monday, after system computers were overwhelmed by last minute claims. Dealers were told they had until noon Tuesday to file their paperwork.
"We're way done. As a matter of fact going through the weekend we got real, real, careful," said Gerken. "Because there is no room for error."
When the program began, dealers were told they would get their money in short order. But that hasn't exatly happened. Surprisingly, neither man is concerned. The Ford dealership seen some cash come in.
"We've received two, on two car deals and on most of the other car deals are on review," said Davis. "So we're starting to see money. I believe our Toyota store and our Honda store are starting to see a few checks as well. So we're encouraged by that."
All in all, dealers around the country may be feeling the same way local dealers are feeling.
"I think it did what it intended. And even today we still have better business than we had 60 days ago," said Gerken. "I think this is going to be a momentum thing, a ball rolling."
"We have seen an uptick in all of our business," said Davis. "New, used, parts, service, body shop. Our whole business kind of uplifted a little bit from the increased traffic."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times