Cautious dealers hope 'Clunkers' funding continues


POSTED: Saturday, August 01, 2009

Hawaii automobile dealers are taking a cautious approach toward the “;Cash for Clunkers”; program and are hopeful additional funding is approved in the coming week.

“;Some are still challenged, with getting the processing (of earlier transactions) through the system,”; said Dave Rolf, executive director of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association.

The program came crashing to a halt in Hawaii Thursday afternoon as uncertainty about funds for dealer reimbursements spread across the nation.

“;What they anticipated for the whole period, through October roughly, seemed to occur in the first week,”; he said.

Yesterday, Rolf forwarded assurances from the National Automobile Dealers Association to reassure dealers that efforts to keep customers coming through their doors were pushing ahead.

A hoped-for additional $2 billion likely will boost auto sales this year, Rolf said.

As of earlier this month, it was expected that 33,000 new vehicles would be purchased this year, a 20-year low.

Hawaii dealers were expected to sell about 1,100 cars through the $1 billion CARS program, but with $2 billion extra, that figure could rise to 3,300 cars—a figure that has “;an elegant symmetry against 33,000. It would be 10 percent ... a double-digit increase,”; said Rolf.