Dealers who sold vehicles under the cash-for-clunkers program are finally being shown the money.
According to information provided to the National Automobile Dealers Association by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
1,600 reimbursement payments have been made.
More than 14,000 applications for reimbursement have been approved but not yet paid.
Dealers have submitted 219,000 applications for reimbursement.
$923 million has been reserved for payments to dealers.
NADA spokesman Bailey Wood says that as soon as NHTSA receives an application for reimbursement from a dealer, it reserves funds associated with that application. If an application is rejected, the money is put back into the fund.
"That's how they accurately track how much of the $1 billion is left," he says, adding that NADA does not know when the first payments were made.
Gordon Stewart, who owns Chevrolet and Toyota dealerships in Michigan, Florida, Alabama and Georgia, says he was excited to see the first $3,500 electronic transfer payment show up in his bank account this morning.
"About $600,000 more and we'll be even," he says.
Stewart says that as of this morning, he has received approval for about 12 percent of the just over 150 applications for reimbursement submitted to the government under the program.
Dealers agree that cash for clunkers has been successful and that selling vehicles has been the easy part.
But anything that dealt with inputting data electronically -- from registering for the program to applying for reimbursement -- has been onerous and time-consuming, dealers say.
Brian Godfrey, general manager of Pat Milliken Ford in suburban Detroit, says he sold 150 vehicles under cash for clunkers and on Tuesday received incentive payments for two, totaling $8,000.
"We've been watching for it and were glad to see it," he says.
Jason Metz, finance director at Burnworth-Zollars, a small dealership in Ligonier, Ind., that sells Ford, Mercury, Chevrolet and Pontiac, says his dealership sold 21 vehicles under cash for clunkers.
Metz has been monitoring his reimbursement applications online and noticed that two are in "ready for payment" status and the remaining 19 are in "ready for review" status.
But he does not understand the timeline associated with those designations.
"Does that mean you get paid in five days or two days or somewhere in between?" Metz says. Two "passed the sniff test, is payable, but where's the money? That's what counts."
Tom Gilbert, general manager of Della Honda-Suzuki in Plattsburgh, N.Y., says he has noticed that since Sunday, the reimbursement application process has gotten easier. But he still hasn't seen payment.
Gilbert says he stopped delivering vehicles under the program Tuesday night. He has deals pending on 10 Honda Civics and five Suzuki SX4 crossovers.
Gilbert adds: "We're telling people we'll write the deal, but until it's approved by the Senate, we won't move on."