MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There are a lot of happy new car owners, new car dealers and new car makers right now. The federal government's extremely popular Cash for Clunkers program ended Monday night, but its impact continues.
When the program ended, some 700,000 "clunkers" had been traded for more fuel efficient automobiles. The most sought after cars included the Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.
The government's $3 billion program was just about depleted; just under $2.9 billion worth of trade-ins on the books.
"American consumers and workers were the clear winners thanks to the cash for clunkers program," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Manufacturing plants have added shifts and recalled workers. Moribund showrooms were brought back to life and consumers bought fuel efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment."
The White House Council of Economic Advisors released a preliminary analysis Wednesday predicting a boost in economic growth for the third quarter of 2009 by 0.3-0.4 percentage points at an annual rate thanks to increased auto sales in July and August.
They say the program will also create or save 42,000 jobs in the second half of 2009.
Some critics contend the program did nothing but set up an automotive industry bubble. Others say the loss of nearly 3/4 of a million used cars will ultimately hurt consumers as supply and demand pushes the price of pre-owned autos upwards.
The trade-ins, all in running condition until a solution is poured into the engine to permanently destroy it, will end up in scrap yards.
Secretary Lahood doesn't see a problem. "This is a win for the economy, a win for the environment and a win for American consumers."
TOP 10 VEHICLES PURCHASED TOP 10 VEHICLES TRADED
The average trade-in got just 15.8 MPG, while the average new car purchased jumped to 24.9 MPG, a 58 percent improvement.
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