With their dealerships swimming in un-submitted clunker sales contracts, two of the nation's biggest auto chains -- AutoNation and Group 1 Automotive Inc. -- are pulling the plug early on cash-for-clunkers.
AutoNation says it will halt all clunker deals tonight at the close of business at its stores. The program does not officially end until Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
A staff of 40 to 50 people at AutoNation's main back-office in Dallas will spend the weekend attempting to process about 1,000 contracts that have not been submitted yet, AutoNation spokesman Marc Cannon said today.
Cannon said that AutoNation has been reimbursed on a small number of its 11,000 clunker sales. Yesterday, Cannon said AutoNation is owed $45 million for its clunker deals.
AutoNation is No. 1 on the Automotive News ranking of the top 125 dealership groups in the United States, based on 2008 new-vehicle retail sales. Group 1 is No. 4.