WASHINGTON — The CARS program came to a close Tuesday night with nearly 700,000 clunkers taken off the roads, replaced by far more fuel efficient vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Rebate applications worth $2.877 billion were submitted by the 8 p.m. deadline, under the $3 billion provided by Congress to run the program.
Cars made in America topped the most-purchased list, from the Ford Focus to the Toyota Corolla to the Honda Civic.
The DOT reports that according to a preliminary analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the CARS program will boost economic growth in 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, will sustain the increase in GDP in the fourth quarter because of increased auto production to replace depleted inventories and will create or save 42,000 jobs in the second half of 2009.
Ford and General Motors recently announced production increases for both the third and fourth quarters as a result of the demand generated by the program, according to the DOT. Honda also said it would be increasing production at its U.S. plants in East Liberty and Marysville, Ohio, and in Lincoln, Ala.
In addition, the program provides good news for the environment. Eight-four percent of consumers traded in trucks and 59 percent purchased passenger cars. The average fuel economy of the vehicles traded in was 15.8 miles per gallon and the average fuel economy of vehicles purchased is 24.9 mpg. a 58 percent improvement.
With the end of transactions under the program, the DOT said it is augmenting a team that already includes more than 2,000 people processing dealer applications for rebates.