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Successful $3 billion Clunker program to end at 8 p.m. Monday

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will bring to an end the popular $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program Monday, giving car shoppers a few more days to take advantage of big government incentives.

The Transportation Department said Thursday that the government will wind down the program at 8 p.m. Monday. Car buyers can receive rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 for trading in older vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient models.

"It's been a thrill to be part of the best economic news story in America," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "Now we are working toward an orderly wind-down of this very popular program."

Through Thursday, auto dealers have made deals worth $1.9 billion and are on pace to exhaust the program's $3 billion in early September. The incentives have generated more than 457,000 vehicle sales. Administration officials said they have reviewed nearly 40 percent of the transactions and have already paid out $145 million to dealers.

There are no plans to seek additional funding, administration officials said.

President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the program has been "successful beyond anybody's imagination" but that dealers were overwhelmed by the response of consumers.

He pledged that dealers "will get their money." The administration has said it has tripled the number of staffers sorting through the dealer paperwork.

Dealers have complained of delays in getting reimbursed and backlogs of vehicle paperwork getting processed in the program, which have led to a cash crunch. Dealers have said they face a risk of not being reimbursed, but LaHood has pledged that dealers will be paid.

On Thursday, both Chrysler and General Motors said they would begin providing cash advances to dealers to help cover any cash shortfalls related to the program.

Some dealers are no longer participating in the Clunker program. The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, which represents dealerships in the New York metro area, said about half its 425 members had left the program because they cannot afford to offer more rebates.

By the numbers

$3 billion

overall funding for the program.

$1.9 billion

the worth of the deals auto dealers have made through Thursday, putting the program on pace to run out in early September.

457,000

vehicle sales generated by the program's incentives.

40 percentage of transactions reviewed by the Obama administration.

$145 million amount paid out to auto dealers.

Successful $3 billion Clunker program to end at 8 p.m. Monday 08/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 21, 2009 9:02am]
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