‘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.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

A Last Word on ‘Cash for Clunkers’

|
One thing the government’s CARS program — a.k.a. "cash for clunkers" — has clearly stimulated is commentary. For a policy involving a shade under $3 billion in federal spending, it has enjoyed no shortage of media coverage. (Photo: Newsday) In part this is because the program looks like a big success, and certainly congressional leaders […]

How to Judge “Cash for Clunkers”

|
(Photo: NYT) At this point, it’s difficult to know exactly what the government’s "cash for clunkers" program is supposed to accomplish. Claims about its economic and environmental benefits are increasingly detached from reality, and the chief advantage of the program would seem to be that it "worked," in the sense that it was popular among […]

House Quickly Sends $2 Billion More to ‘Cash for Clunkers’

|
The "cash for clunkers" rebate program, which promises new auto buyers up to $4,500 for fuel-efficiency upgrades as small as 2 miles per gallon, is back to life after burning through $1 billion in taxpayer cash. Minutes ago, the House approved $2 billion more in auto rebates by transferring cash that was already headed for […]

Could Electric-Car Tax Credits Become the Next “Cash for Clunkers”?

|
The White House’s commitment to electrified cars, fulfilling an Obama campaign promise to put 1 million plug-in hybrids into service by 2015, is bound to have serious ramifications for the nation’s already-crumbling system of paying for transportation. (Photo: MPR) But could the administration continue to leave the gas tax untouched while relying on taxpayer-subsidized rebates […]