Suspension of "Cash of Clunkers" sends dealers into frenzy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Suspension of "Cash of Clunkers" sends dealers into frenzy

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by Bryan Goettel

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - It was supposed to go until November, but the program paying you to trade in your old cars has been so successful - it used that $1 billion at a record pace.

Fearing it would run out of money - the program is now suspended.  But the measure passed in the house could bring it back alive.

An additional $2 billion would be placed in the program under this proposal.  The senate is expected to vote on additional funding next week.

Eastern Iowans were out pretty late last night to get this deal before the program became suspended.

Excuse car dealers and sales staff across the country if they were a little weary-eyed on Friday.

"A lot of people that felt like they were still here when they woke up this morning," Mark Zimmerman Ford general sales manager Chaun Favre said.

When word came down late Thursday that the "Cash for Clunkers" program had run out money, dealerships like Zimmerman Ford were thrown into a frenzy trying to push through deals at the last-minute.

"We had people on the showroom floor picking up vehicles at 11, 12:00 last night to make sure that we got 'em into the system and they took advantage of the program," Favre said.

"I've never been out on the lot when it's been dark outside," sales consultant Stephanie Thurn said.

It was supposed to be Thurn's day off. Instead, she worked a full day Thursday because of all the demand from the program. She had been gone from work for an hour and was getting ready to go out with friends when she got the call about the program being suspended.

"I was in heels and a dress," Thurn said.  "But it was just a sense of urgency to get here and call my customers."

"We knew that once it hit it was gonna be good," Favre said.  "We didn't know it was gonna be quite this crazy and it's definitely the nicest thing we've seen with the struggling economy for the car industry."

"I personally believe the funds could possibly be gone, quite honestly, by the end of this week," Ace Auto Recyclers manager Joel McCaw said.

Those words were uttered by McCaw on Tuesday. Few believed at the time that just two days later....he'd be right.

The White House says deals will continue to be honored at least through the weekend.

With the help of "Cash for Clunkers," Zimmerman Ford has delivered 80 cars in the last week.

That's more than double the sales compared to a typical July week.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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