Even if the government injects another $2 billion into the cash-for-clunkers program, the good times for dealers won't last, Edmunds.com says.
The first $1 billion boosted the seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, to 19.6 million units, calculated during the period the program was active, from July 24-31, Edmunds says. But analysts at the online consumer information Web site believe the early popularity of the program will fade.
"Of course, this level of activity will not continue," said Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell. "It reflects the behavior of those anxious and able to participate in the program -- and that is a limited set of people."
Edmunds crunched sales numbers in May and June and in the final week of July, when the clunker program was in full bloom. Some findings:
The average fuel economy of vehicles bought with a clunker trade is 23.2 mpg; before the clunker incentive, new-vehicle average fuel economy was 21.8 mpg.
Before the program started, trade-ins averaged 20.0 mpg. The average EPA rating of clunkers pulled from the U.S. fleet is 18.3 mpg.
The average cash value of clunkers traded in was $1,475. The program offers rebates of either $3,500 or $4,500.
Dealers are making money. Edmunds estimates dealers are seeing a 20percent increase in gross profit per deal that involves a clunker trade, compared with per-vehicle profit on a sale or lease prior to the clunker program.