Correction: Dealer reapplications of rejected applications will not increase the $2.88 billion figure released by the Transportation's Department for dealer submissions on Wednesday. That's because the original filings, and reapplications following rejection, are being given the same invoice number, Transportation spokesman Eric Bolton said. Even if reapplications are entered after the Aug. 25 filing deadline, they will already have been included in the total, he said. Earlier versions of this story misstated the status of the reapplications.
WASHINGTON -- Dealers submitted a total of 690,114 cash-for-clunkers deals for $2.88 billion in rebates by last night's 8 p.m. deadline, coming in under the $3 billion budget for the popular program, the U.S. Transportation Department said today.
The potential cost of the program precludes for now the need for the Obama administration to ask Congress for more money.
"Those figures clearly confirm the program did exactly what it was designed to do -- stimulate our economy," U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said in a statement.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last week that rejected filings could be resubmitted after the claims deadline.
The National Automobile Dealers Association has estimated that the rejection rate was as high as 80 percent at one time, though federal officials later said that rate had been dramatically reduced.
The figures also don't include administrative costs, which federal officials have declined to estimate.
The Transportation Department expanded its computer capacity in response to unexpected claim volume. It also said today that the number of staff members working on dealer applications has risen six-fold, to about 2,000, in the last two weeks.
Todays figures show that dealers filed only $229 million in claims during the final 36 hours of the program, substantially below the rate at which they were submitted between the mornings of Friday, Aug. 21, and Mon., Aug. 24.
During the weekend, dealers entered $611 million in rebate applications.
Both intervals were marked by computer outages on the Transportation Departments Web site for dealers, slowing the submission of applications and prompting two extensions of the original claims deadline.
A number of dealers also opted out of the program before the Aug. 24 deadline for completing deals because of the bottlenecks in electronic filing.
LaHood hailed the program today.
American consumers and workers were the clear winners thanks to the cash-for-clunkers program, he said in a statement.
The Transportation Department plans to add to the public and private staff who are processing dealer applications for rebates, the statement said.
The cash-for-clunkers program will only be a success if dealers are paid in a timely manner, NADA spokesman Bailey Wood said.
The agency had only 350 employees, or about one-sixth of the current total, at the end of the week beginning Aug. 10.