Metro

Mount Pleasant dealerships still waiting on money from Cash for Clunkers program

The Cash for Clunkers program ended last week, but dealerships are still waiting for their money.

“I’m disappointed the paperwork took so long, but the government’s never been in the car business before,” said Krapohl Ford Sales Manager Bob Mihalyfi. “Everything else went good, though; we’re just waiting to get paid by the government now.”

The program, also known as The Car Allowance Rebate System, allowed people to trade in their older, beat-up cars for a cash allowance toward a more fuel-efficient vehicle. The program was so popular, Congress had to authorize an extra $2 billion for it before it ended Aug. 24.

But while many may criticize the tactics of the Cash for Clunkers program, it is difficult not to recognize all the business it brought to dealerships.

General Manager Jim Messick of Graff Chevrolet said he noticed an incredible shift in business since the start of the program.

“It gave us the boost the auto industry needed to pick up where we left off a year ago,” Messick said.

The Cash for Clunkers seemed to draw more business than originally thought, Messick said. They were not prepared for as many people as they received, he said.

Krapohl Ford sold 51 cars through the Cash for Clunkers program and has another six more still on order. Graff Chevrolet was given just as much of a boost with 59 sales.

“We were in a unique situation where we had more customers than cars to sell,” Messick said.

The program was not only helpful because it stimulated auto sales, but it also helped get a lot of older vehicles off the road, Mihalyfi said. He was very satisfied with what the program did.

“It did exactly what it was supposed to do,” he said. “It definitely had a great effect on our traffic, sales, and inventory. Overall, it was a wonderful program.”

The program, which ended Thursday, started July 2, with the federal government tripling its the budget Aug. 7, according to the Web site.

“It was a good program,” Messick said. “It brought the much needed business to dealerships.”

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