DETROIT -- At Russ Milne Ford in suburban Detroit, the hauler loaded with Ford Focuses that drove up today was like a drinking fountain in the desert for the car-strapped dealership still working on cash-for-clunkers deals.
Theyll probably be gone by the end of the day, said Keith Batko, general manager of the dealership.
Until the car hauler pulled in, there wasnt a Focus to be found on Russ Milnes lots.
The clunker sales surge had wiped the dealership out of the fuel-efficient Focus and Ford Escape and helped trim stock from 500 vehicles going into July to 200 now. The dealership wont get more Escapes until sometime next week, and two are already reserved.
I have two completely vacant parking lots we could do doughnuts in, said Batko, who praises his hometown congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, for supporting the clunkers stimulus. This program is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Batkos staff continues to write up clunkers deals today even though the Senate hasnt voted yet on $2 billion in additional money for the program. Batko said he is confident the extension will be approved, even though possible Republican amendments could force a suspension of the program until Congress reconvenes after Labor Day.
The dealership, which has closed around 130 clunker sales so far, is still waiting for the first payment of the $500,000-plus it is owed by the government.
The bottleneck slowing down the filing of claims has been the only negative aspect of clunkers, Batko said. It got a little better on Tuesday.
We managed to get five in yesterday, he said. But when were delivering 20 a day, five doesnt help.