KENT COUNTY—Since it's inception last Friday, West Michigan car dealerships have felt the impact of the Cash for Clunkers program.
Customers have been pouring in looking to take advantage of the one billion dollar stimulus program aimed at getting more fuel efficient vehicles on the roadway.
Dealerships across West Michigan say customers are coming in looking to take advantage of the offer.
"We've had quite a few inquiries," said Kim Winkler of Pfeiffer Lincoln Mercury. "It's a big share of what's going on in our showroom right now."
You can tell on the lots that cars are moving. Many dealerships are watching their inventories disappear. Fox Ford in Grand Rapids is no exception. They normally keep about 75 fuel-efficient Focuses or Fusions on the lot; that's down to about 15 right now.
"It has been a very good program for the people who have taken advantage of this," said Pete Ricards, general manager at Fox Ford. "It's definitely sold us more cars."
But the process hasn't all been smooth selling.
"I think selection on our lots is going to get very picked over, and there's not going to be very much for the customer to work with on the new car side of things," said Winkler.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is running the Cash for Clunkers program, has set up a website to help dealerships and car buyers with the process.
"There will be some sort of an indicator whether it's a clock or a bar graph or something for people to track the spending in the program," said Rai Tyson with NHTSA.
The program works under a lot of stipulations, which has created quite a bit of paperwork for dealerships.
"If we don't do things properly when we submit the documentation, we go to the back of the line," said Ricards. "So the onus is on us to make sure we prepare our documentation correctly and get these processed in a very timely manner."
There have been bumps in the road for customers who are looking to make the trade. Many of them are looking to get proof of a year's worth of registrations from the Secretary of State.
"At this point we've had some requests. I think that's kind of over characterizing it," said Secretary of State spokesperson Kelly Chesney. "We've received a number of inquiries for last year's registration because they hadn't kept a copy of it."
But despite the headaches, dealers are a lot happier these days.
"Doing all the paperwork and documentation in the middle is certainly not the fun part," said Winkler. "but it's what you have to do to sell a few more cars."
The Cash for Clunkers program, also called the Car Allowance Rebate System, ends November 1st. It could end earlier if the allocated funds for the program run out before then.
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