Clunkers program boosts local dealer sales

FREMONT, CA

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Word that the rebate program will be valid at least through the weekend has dealerships bracing for a financially spectacular weekend of sales.

"It will probably be the best weekends that the auto industry has seen in 100 years," said Fremont Toyota CEO Tom Cogliano.

That is a prediction that Cogliano is laying out based on this past week's boom in sales because of the Cash for Clunkers program.

His dealership has customers coming out of the woodwork, stimulated to spend by the federal government's rebate incentive program to buy a new car.

"We have a base of customers out there that have come in with their clunkers, and folks -- middle-age, older folks -- that have owned their cars for 20 plus years and they buy a car every 20 years, and this has got them off the couch and got them out spending money," said Cogliano.

Potential customers like Jose Malonzo are clear on the incentive.

"The refund by the government, like the $4,500 cash back," he said.

And it is not only the money, but the benefits of a new fuel-efficient car that are driving buyers.

"You have zero emissions and you save a lot of gas and you save the environment as well," said Malonzo.

Since the program started a week ago, Fremont Toyota has sold over 200 cars in Cash for Clunker deals.

"We have laid out over a million dollars in Cash for Clunkers incentives/rebates to consumers," said Cogliano.

With that kind of money on the line waiting for government refunds, it is only natural a bit of sarcasm is flowing, as seen in a fax sent into the dealership that shows a copy of an Obama hope poster and says "I hope he pays you."

There is currently a massive nationwide backlog of paperwork to file for dealers to get the refunds.

"I don't think anyone in the country has gotten any money back, but you know, we know where Obama lives, and I think he's going to pay us," said Cogliano.

The Fremont dealership and many others are sitting on their clunkers, basically not sending them to salvage yards to be scrapped until they are sure the rebate money is refunded by the government.

LINK: Car Allowance Rebate System

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