September 25, 2009

Psst: Cash For Clunkers July-August ‘Success’ Causes Serious September Sales Swoon


As far as the establishment media is concerned, the Cash For Clunkers program Uncle Sam conducted in July and August was a smashing (excuse the term) success. That’s the case, despite the deliberate destruction of hundreds of thousands of perfectly usable vehicles, late payments to dealers (the USDOT is finally catching up), the program’s failure to give much relief to government bailout beneficiaries General Motors and Chrysler, and less than perfect communications about tax consequences to buyers.

A week ago, there was news indicating that September auto sales will be down drastically, and that most of the blame for the nosedive belongs to Cash for Clunkers. If you haven’t seen any establishment media coverage of this, it’s because there has been very little. A Google News Search on ["september sales" "cash for clunkers"] (typed exactly as indicated) for September 17-25 returned all of 68 items (Google’s indication that there are over 400 is wrong), and a significant number of them are stories in the various cities served by

Here is part of Chrissie Thompson’s Automotive News report from September 18 describing how dire things have gotten at dealer showrooms around the U.S.:

September sales rate may be lowest on record
Edmunds’ SAAR of 8.8 million would be lowest in nearly 28 years

September’s light-vehicle sales rate will fall to 8.8 million units, consumer auto site said. That would be the lowest rate in nearly 28 years, tying the worst demand on record.

After the cash-for-clunkers program boosted August sales to their first year-over-year increase since October 2007, demand has plunged. In at least the last 33 years, the U.S. seasonally adjusted annual rate has only dropped as low as 8.8 million units once — in December 1981 — with records stretching back to January 1976.

Amid a global recession, U.S. sales fell to 13.2 million units in 2008, from 16.2 million in 2007. The slide continued, with demand ranging from 9.1 million to 9.9 million in the first half of this year.

….. Now that consumers can’t receive $3,500 to $4,500 for trading in gas guzzlers for new vehicles with better fuel efficiency, they aren’t rushing to purchase vehicles, analysts said.

It will be more than a little interesting to see which manufacturers are hurt the most, and the least, by all of this. It will also be interesting to see how or if the establishment press can still portray the Clunkers program as a success if September really turns out as badly as feared.

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Cross-posted at


1 Comment

  1. Thanks for your great coverage on this topic.

    Housing may follow a similar pattern. The $8,000 first-time homebuyer credit will end in Nov. This credit has boosted the sales of low-end homes. Expect demand to show it has soften as of Nov/Dec.

    Meanwhile, demand remains soft for middle-tier and upper-tier homes. A nice graph at the second link.

    Comment by Cornfed — September 25, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

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