So much for the government running its programs well

Well, possibly the government health care can run this well.

Auto makers will release their monthly sales reports Tuesday and they're expected to show the first year-to-year increase since 2007. While the Cash for Clunkers program is getting all the credit, local car dealers are still waiting for their cash.

During the month long program, Billion Automotive sold close to a thousand vehicles but has only been reimbursed for 272 of them. Vern Eide sold over 200 cars and has only been paid for 27 of them, and that's fueling lots of concerns in the auto industry.

Billion Automotive cashed in during Cash for Clunkers, but owner Dave Billion is still waiting for the rest of his money from the government run program, $3.2 million.

"I wonder how long they'd wait if I owed them $3.2 million. I think they'd be at my door or at least my banker's door," Billion said.

Even though Billion is beginning to get some of his reimbursement money, he's still concerned because he says there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the program.

When Cash for Clunkers was first announced, dealers were supposed to be reimbursed within 10 days of a sale. Billion says that hasn't happened.

"The program started in July and we haven't gotten paid for cars we sold back then, but then on the other hand we got paid for a car we sold last week. They don't have an accurate format. It's not like they're taking the first deals that were submitted and working those. I don't know how they're doing it, no idea. I know it's very random" Billion said. . . . .

"We had a situation where we had a submission, they rejected it for multiple reasons. We didn't see anything wrong with it, so we resubmitted it. They rejected, we resubmitted it. They rejected it, seven times and finally they paid it, and we never changed a single thing on it," Billion said. . . . .

CBS reports on "Car Dealers Still Waiting On 'Clunkers' Cash":

Here's the figure: $2.878 billion. That's how much money the government owes car dealers for the "Cash for Clunkers" program.

More than $200 million of that is owed to dealers in Illinois and Indiana, so CBS 2's Mai Martinez checked with some of them to see how much money they've collected from Uncle Sam.

Now that the popular program has ended, many dealerships are asking the federal government to "show me the money."

CAPTURE MY CHICAGO: Send us your pictures of Chicagoland. You could get published in a book.

"Out of 142 deals they owe us for, we've gotten paid on seven," Lou Tornabeni of Ettleson Hyundai said.

"We had 102 cash for clunkers," Carm Scarpace of Westfield Ford said. "We've been paid for one."

With each Cash for Clunkers deal worth between $3,500 and $4,500, many dealerships are anxiously awaiting their government payday. . . .

Roberts says his dealership sold 142 cars under the program -- for a total of about $568,000 in government rebates. So far, the dealership has only been paid about $68,000 for about 17 of the deals, which means Uncle Sam still owes them roughly $500,000.

"It's not crippling, but it definitely affects the cash flow on a regular basis," Roberts said.

Roberts says his dealership can handle the cash crunch, but others may not be as lucky, especially if they didn't follow the government's strict guidelines for the program.

"We know of one dealer that sold 40 cars under the Cash for Clunkers programs, and out of those 40 cars, he's expecting to get paid on eight," Roberts said. . . . .

Car sales in August didn't quite work out as planned for Chrysler and to at least some extent GM. The big beneficiaries were foreign car makers.

Car makers sold 1,261,977 cars and pickup trucks industrywide, an increase of about 1% from a year earlier and up from July's 997,824. It was the highest total sales since May 2008 and the first time the industry saw a year-over-year increase since October 2007.

August's annualized sales pace jumped to 14.09 million vehicles, said Autodata Corp., an industry research firm. That is up from 11.24 million in July and 9.7 million in June and compares to 13.56 million in August 2008.

Foreign-based makers benefited the most from the clunkers incentives. Toyota sale rose 6.4% to 225,088 and Honda Motor Co. sold 161,439 vehicles, up almost 10%. But the rebates also aided Ford, whose sales jumped 17% to 181,826 vehicles.

In contrast, GM reported a 20% decline in sales to 245,066 vehicles, in part due to strong year-earlier sales when it had a big promotion celebrating its 100th anniversary. Still, GM sales were up from July's 187,582 and June's 174,006.

At Chrysler Group LLC -- which, like GM, recently underwent a U.S.-sponsored bankruptcy revamping -- sales fell 15% to 93,222. Chrysler was hurt by lean inventories that left many dealers short of vehicles.

The clunkers program offered as much as $4,500 to customers who traded in old vehicles for new, more-fuel efficient models. More than 700,000 vehicles were sold with the rebates between July and Aug. 24, when the Transportation Department stopped the program because it was about to exhaust its budget. . . . .

The AP has this prediction for the rest of the year.

Consumers are expected to steer clear of dealers this autumn now that the clunker rebates are no longer available.

NPR notes:

According to the Department of Transportation, as of Friday, 59 percent of vehicles bought with Clunkers cash were foreign. The top two sellers were the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, both made by Japanese auto manufacturers. The only Detroit vehicles in the top 10 were the Ford Focus and Escape. . . .

This is in from Bloomberg:

Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. “cash for clunkers” vehicle trade-in program has repaid 17 percent of dealer rebate applications nine days after the filing deadline, and is hiring more workers to process the paperwork, an official said today. . . .

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over the next 3 or 4 years there will be plenty more opportunities to criticize government bailout programs like the "cash for clunkers" program. Another trillion dollars in debt will be going bad shortly including:

- Option ARM mortgages
- Private equity buyout deals of large companies
- Commercial real estate projects
- Banks who invested in questionable mortgages and real estate developers mortgages

9/01/2009 12:06 PM  

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