WASHINGTON -- U.S. dealers submitted 245,384 cash-for-clunkers claims totaling $1.03 billion as of last Friday, Aug. 7, as they raced to get applications in the pipeline before a possible funding cutoff.
New data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation show claims increased 33 percent from the $775 million claimed just two days earlier, on Wednesday, Aug. 5. The information does not show how many of the claims were approved for reimbursement.
It shows an average claim of $4,197, indicating that more $4,500 rebates than $3,500 rebates have been paid.
Clunker rebate backlogs now are falling as technical glitches get solved and money moves through the repayment system.
"With dealers more familiar with the system, the backlog of deals which have yet to be entered into the system is down dramatically," Bailey Wood, spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said today.
The Obama administration warned last week that it would guarantee payment only on claims in the pipeline before the Senate decided whether to pass a proposed $2 billion extension of the $1 billion program.
Suspense built last week as the Senate considered whether to pass the new funding approved by the House. The Senate had to make a decision before its Friday, Aug. 7, recess.
The Senate passed the extension on Thursday, Aug. 6, and President Barack Obama signed it into law the following day.
The $2 billion became available immediately, White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said today, easing dealers anxiety about whether they would be paid for completed deals.
Dealers were submitting a backlog of claims that had built up since they could start filing for rebates on July 24.
A NADA survey found July 30 that business was so heavy that claims could deplete the $1 billion fund by Aug. 2.
Thats when the administration started seeking new funding.
The excess of $4,500 rebates over $3,500 rebates suggests that consumers are opting for unusually fuel-efficient models.
The larger rebates are given to customers who buy new cars that get at least 28 mpg or light trucks with at least 23 mpg after trading in vehicles that get less than 18 mpg.
The smaller rebates are given for purchases of new cars with at least 22 mpg or light trucks with 20 mpg.