Dealers have a new challenge in a post-Clunkers market

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A month after the popular Cash for Clunkers program, some East Texas dealers said they have their money back, but they now have a new challenge.

One Lufkin car lot's new car inventory is only half of what it was before Cash for Clunkers.

"In this case, [it] keeps people buying cars, so the factory built cars, the dealers sold cars, the salesman made some money off of it," said Mercer Nissan Mazda Dealer Roger Mercer.  "The shop made money, the company that hauled the cars off made money. The consumers got a very good buy...So I think it directly benefited people that you and I know."

The domino effect the program caused is good news for dealerships, but now, they're waiting on auto makers to fill up their lots.

"For the first time in a long time, the Cash for Clunkers had brought so many people in that we almost literally sold out of inventory," said Southern Chrysler Dodge Jeep Sales Manager Dwayne Stewart.

They're thankful the government paid up.

"We've been paid for 100 percent," said Mercer. "Everything they owed us, they paid us. So, we've been very lucky."

"We've collected about 75 percent of the money from the government," said Stewart. "I feel very confident we'll get the other 25 percent."

While customer traffic may be down for some, with interested buyers coming in, it would help if there was more inventory available.

"We don't have much floor traffic, but our sales are pretty steady," said Mercer.

"Obviously there was a big influx during the Cash for Clunkers, but I think that it's made an awareness for people out there to know that hey it's okay to buy," said Stewart.

With more cars on the way, some dealers said they're hopeful they'll be back in gear soon.

The government has reportedly paid dealers for 70 percent of the cars sold under the program and dealers should be paid fully by the end of the September.

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