Cash for Clunkers to end Monday

(AP) - The Obama administration will end the popular$3 billion Cash for Clunkers program on Monday, giving car shoppersa few more days to take advantage of big government incentives.

The Transportation Department said Thursday that the governmentwill wind down the program on Monday at 8 p.m. EDT. Car buyers canreceive rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 for trading in older vehiclesfor new, more fuel-efficient models.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the program has been"a lifeline to the automobile industry, jump starting a majorsector of the economy and putting people back to work." He saidthe department was "working toward an orderly wind down of thisvery popular program."

The White House has touted the program's success in providing atargeted boost to the sluggish economy since its inception in lateJuly. Through Thursday, auto dealers have made deals worth $1.9billion and the incentives have generated more than 457,000 vehiclesales.

But the administration needed to put a halt to the program toavoid surpassing the $3 billion funding level. Consumers were onpace to exhaust the program's coffers in early September anddealers have complained about long delays in getting reimbursed forthe car incentives.

John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile DealersAssociation, said he remained concerned that so few dealers hadbeen reimbursed for Clunker deals. But he said the Monday deadlineshould give dealers time to get their paperwork in order.

"I think if we can get a clean cutoff Monday and get everythingprocessed by then, it will have been a pretty darned successfulprogram," he said.

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