‘Clunkers’ Consequences: GM Sales Down, Ford Gas-Guzzlers Up

When Congress tripled the size of the "cash for clunkers" program in July, both Congress and the White House billed the $3 billion program as a boon for struggling domestic automakers. But when those Detroit car companies released sales figures today, the numbers didn't quite match up to the hype.

082409_clunker1__1251140010_9010.jpg(Photo: AFP/Getty)
General Motors and Chrysler, which required a combined $65 billion in government loans before declaring bankruptcy, reported August year-to-year sales declines of 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Detroit media reports focused on GM's 30 percent sales increase between July and August 2009, but the company's car sales were down 1 percent even after being "bolstered" by the taxpayer-funded "clunkers" rebates.

Ford, the lone U.S. automaker that did not require a government rescue, reported a 17 percent year-to-year sales increase in August. As the New York Times reported, the company was pleased by one sales jump in particular:

At Ford, sales of the F-series, a large pickup truck popular among building contractors, rose for the first time since October 2006, a positive sign for the automotive market and the broader economy, the company said. Ford sold 13 percent more of the F-series and 57 percent more of a smaller pickup, the Ranger.

“It may be a glimmer of hope,” Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of marketing, sales and service in the United States, said on a conference call.

The F-150, the most well-known of the F-series trucks, gets an average of 16 miles per gallon (mpg) of gas. The Ranger gets between 16 mpg and 23 mpg, depending on the engine and transmission. "Glimmer of hope," indeed.