The “Cash for Clunkers” program, officially known as the Car Allowance Rebate Systems (CARS), ran from late July to late August. The program provided government vouchers of $3,500 or $4,500 to be used toward the purchase of a new vehicle for the trade-in of a used vehicle that met certain qualifications. The used vehicle was then scrapped. The program’s premise was to provide the automakers and dealers with a jumpstart in new car sales while getting so-called “gas guzzlers” off the road.
The trade-in vehicle needed to meet the following criteria: manufactured less than 25 years before the trade-in date; have a combined highway/city fuel-economy rating of 18 miles per gallon or less; be continuously registered to the same owner for the full year before trade-in; and be in driving condition.
The government is still processing final voucher applications submitted by dealers. As of September 29, there were 659,345 vouchers paid, worth nearly $2.8 billion.
Toyota Motor Company experienced the most success through the CARS program, followed by GM, Ford and Honda. The Toyota Corolla was the top model purchased. Possibly surprising to some, the top 10 models purchased included two crossover vehicles (CUVs) and two pickup trucks. See Tables 1 and 2 for the numbers and models.