“Cash for Clunker” Has Cars Zooming Off Lots

Ben Ritter owns an '88 Pontiac Firebird that he can't wait to get rid of.

"I fill this thing once a week and don't feel like I go anywhere,"  he said.

And thanks to a new federal 'Cash for Clunker' law, the 26-year-old from East Brunswick, New Jersey will soon be dumping the V-8 gas hog  for a brand new Toyota Prius. That means switching up from trips of about 14 miles to the gallon to about 50 mpg.

"I'm trading in power for practicality," says Ritter.

And that is the whole point of the new 'Cash for Clunker' program that will provide federal vouchers of up to $4,500 for people to trade in their vehicles for new ones that get better mileage.    

Similar European programs are expected to result in 400,000 to 500,000 more new vehicle sales this year than previous years. Those who support the U.S. law believe there could be 1 million sales at a time Chrysler is in bankruptcy court and General Motors is fighting for a bailout.

The law, which is also called "fleet modernization" takes effect July 24.  It's goal is to stimulate the economy,  cut down on petrodollars we send overseas, and slow the pace of global warming. 
Will it work?  It appears to be in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

At Samsone Auto Mall, with some 50 relatively fuel efficient models that qualify from several different manufacturers, there have been dozens of inquiries into the program, the dealership said. said Many of them have turned into sales, though delivery has to wait until the 24th.
"This definitely is increasing business," according to Samsone Toyota general manager John Grillo. 
Ritter will use the $4500 for the downpayment, and to lower his monthly payment for a car he says he couldn't afford otherwise. 
Dealer Paul Samsone expects business to increase "at least 10 to 15 per cent," after a drop off of roughly 30 per cent this past year as the recession took hold. 
All of the clunkers dealers take in have to be destroyed, and Samsone says he has already lined up three junkyards to take care of what his salesmen take in. 
The federal program will pay $4500 for new cars that get at least 10 mpg more than your existing clunker, and $3500  for increases of between 4 and 10mpg. 
The 'clunker' can be rated at no more than 18mpg, owned for at least a year, be in running condition, and no more than 25 years old.

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