DETROIT -- The U.S. fund to boost sales of fuel-efficient vehicles could run out within a month, Ford Motor Co.s chief economist said.
The numbers on the cash-for-clunkers program have been really blockbuster, Ellen Hughes-Cromwick told reporters today. People were waiting for this program to start.
In all, Ford now expects the program to cover the sale of 700,000 to 750,000 vehicles. At the current sales pace, which Ford expects to continue as long as funds remain, the $3 billion approved for the initiative may be spoken for within three to four weeks, Ford officials said.
Already, about $300 million of the $2 billion extension approved last week is gone, according to Department of Transportation statistics cited by Hughes-Cromwick.
Many sales under the clunkers incentive appear to be deferred purchases from buyers who otherwise would have bought a new car before the program started, Hughes-Cromwick said. She pointed to data showing new-vehicle purchases by owners of qualifying clunkers slowed sharply in the first part of this year, presumably as buyers waited while word of potential clunkers legislation circulated.
About 30 percent to 40 percent of program sales appear to be incremental, she said, or deliveries that otherwise wouldn't have happened this year. Without the incentive, those buyers might have bought a used car or continued to drive drive their clunker into the ground.
Through the first 10 days of August, the pace of sales is extremely fast, Ford sales analyst George Pipas said in the same media briefing. He wouldnt estimate a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for August but called the numbers so far eye-popping.
Last year, the light vehicle SAAR for the full month was 13.6 million, he said. Its well beyond that.
Julys sales rate rose to the highest mark this year, 11.1 million, after initial funds for the four-month program were exhausted in about a week. The extension, which also provides discounts of as much as $4,500 to qualified buyers, was approved by President Obama six days ago.