Car dealers make final 'clunkers' push

August 21, 2009 7:21:28 PM PDT
The cash for clunkers program runs out Monday. Bay Area auto dealers are bracing themselves for what is likely to be a very busy weekend.

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From San Francisco to Sacramento, consumers are trying to cash in on the big deal before it goes away.

"I'll be driving a lot more now that I am paying less for gas," one buyer said.

The cash for clunkers rebate program has been a hit with consumers and a boon for struggling auto dealers.

Dealers are now revving up for what they expect to be a very busy weekend.

"I think we are going to have a huge rush because the program ending, so we're going to have a lot of turnout," Joe Shaghasi of San Francisco Ford Lincoln Mercury said.

San Francisco Ford Lincoln Mercury has seen its sales soar under the program, which gives people up to $4,500 to trade in their old, less fuel efficient car for a new one.

"It's been a phenomenal day, very, very busy," Shaghasi said.

"We've been extremely overwhelmed, actually, with the response to the cash for clunkers program," Mark Hugret of San Francisco Honda said.

San Francisco Honda started the year with about 300 cars on its lot.

"Today we have less than 10, so I'd say it's been wildly successful," Hugret said.

That success, however, has a price.

High mileage Hondas are so much in demand that some dealers around the country are pumping up their prices.

"There are very few new cars in the pipeline, and so dealers feel compelled to, every dealer, not just us, every dealer is compelled to ask for more money," Hugret said.

But that is not stopping the buyers.

"The vehicles that we are seeing through the program are not worth anywhere near $4,500 or $3,500 dollars, so they'll never be worth this much again," Hugret said.

"I think this has been a phenomenal program, I hate to see it end," Shaghasi said. "I think it has given us as an economy, a boost that we needed so badly and I look forward to something coming out like this in the future, if not by the government then maybe we as dealerships can come up with something."

LINK: Car Allowance Rebate System (cash for clunkers) website

Written and produced by Ken Miguel

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