Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized the percent of cash-for-clunkers buyers who took the Cars.com survey. One-third of the respondents were cash-for-clunkers participants.
About a third of customers who participated in the cash for clunkers program would not have purchased any vehicle without the government incentive, a new study says.
In a survey conducted by consumer site Cars.com, 30 percent of cash for clunkers buyers said they had not planned to buy a vehicle at all, but were lured to showrooms by the $3,500 or $4,500 government rebates. About 55 percent said they had planned to buy a used vehicle but bought a new one because of the federal offer.
The survey showed the government rebate appealed to consumers who were waiting for better economic times to buy new vehicles, along with those who had not previously intended to buy a car, Cars.com Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen said.
“The program certainly had its desired effect,” he said in a statement.
The program helped boost August U.S. light-vehicle sales to their first year-over-year increase since October 2007. Demand hit an 11.1-million-unit seasonally adjusted annual sales rate in July and a 13.7-million-unit rate in August. Through June, the sales rate had not exceeded 9.9 million this year.
Cash-for-clunkers buyers made up a third of the 1,056 study participants. About 17 percent of the respondents had purchased a vehicle in the past three months outside of the government program. The remaining half said they plan to buy one in the next six months.
Eighty percent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the way the cash for clunkers program operated. That compares with complaints from dealers, many of whom are still waiting for reimbursements for the consumer vouchers, about problems with the program's online system, customer service line and paperwork.
Fifty-five percent of survey respondents said they wish the government would continue the program, which officially ran from July 24 to Aug. 24. It gave consumers rebates for turning in gas guzzlers for new vehicles with better fuel efficiency.