Auto dealers reported delays in registering for the cash-for-guzzlers program, setting back their efforts to get a quick start on the initiative designed to spur U.S. auto sales.
Frank Brescia, new car sales manager at Webb Chevrolet in Oak Lawn, Ill., said his store finally registered at 1 p.m. local time, after more than seven hours of trying.
Patricia Swift-Oladeinde, a spokeswoman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said such delays stem from almost 20,000 dealers trying to sign up.
"Everybody cannot log on at one time, she said. It is an onslaught. We are registering as we can, and they just have to continue to log in when they can, get in when they can.
"Have lots of patience, and they will get in eventually."
4 hours to connect
Brandy Brooks, new car sales manager at Grossinger City Toyota in Chicago, said it took about four hours to connect.
She said her office manager arrived at 5 a.m. to register. "The system was crashing, kicking him out, Brooks said.
She said her store got "a ton of phone calls" this week from people asking questions about the rebate program. The dealership has been referring callers to the cars.gov Web site to see if their cars qualify.
The dealership had about 25 pre-sold orders for Prius, Corolla and Camry models linked to the rebate. She said she began taking orders on Monday.
Although the program officially began July 1, the government has been advising dealers to hold off on making deals until todays release of the rules. Cash for guzzlers" gives consumers vouchers of up to $4,500 for trading in some gas-guzzling vehicles for new ones with better fuel economy.
Steve Wendt, general manager, of Sanderson Ford, Lincoln Mercury in Glendale, Ariz., still hadnt registered after more than five hours. He's been playing an electronic equivalent of the Chutes and Ladders board game.
"I get a little further each time, but it basically locks up," he said. "You lose the information, and you have to start over."
Webb Chevrolets Brescia said his stores struggles didnt end once it registered. Employees sought information by calling a toll-free number. Instead, an answering service relayed their questions to the government.
"This thing is not working smoothly at all, Brescia said. There will be some hitches.