The Obama administration is touting the success of the Cash for Clunkers program based on the first 80,000 vehicles processed. So far, Detroit’s Big Three account for 47% of sales, and the Ford Focus is the top-selling vehicle in the program.
This goes quite a way toward debunking the talking points of conservative commentators who claimed the program was only helping “limousine liberals,” as most liberals who ride in limousines don’t tend to buy a Focus as a second car.
In addition, four of the top 10 best-selling cars are manufactured by Ford, GM or Chrysler, and more than half of the top 10 are manufactured in the U.S., according to the Department of Transportation.
For those in Congress who wanted the CARS program to have stricter environmental requirements, it seems consumers are choosing to go for high mileage on their own: 83% of the trade-ins have fallen into the SUVs/light trucks category, while 60% of the new vehicles purchased have been cars. So far, the program has generated a 61% increase in fuel economy, according to the White House.
The average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased under the program is 25.4 mpg, while the average EPA rating for the discarded vehicles is 15.8 mpg, making for a 9.6-mpg increase. This is well beyond the savings we tallied in our earlier environmental thought experiment. The White House touts the $700 to $1,000 in gas this will save these consumers every year, as well as the fact that Cash for Clunkers is putting safer cars on the road that dramatically reduce air pollution.
Obviously, the Obama administration is leaning hard on the Senate to finance the CARS program with an additional $2 billion, already approved by the House. The vote is expected for either Wednesday or Thursday.