WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration plans to end the popular $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program on Monday, giving car shoppers a few more days to take advantage of big government incentives.
The Transportation Department said Thursday the government will wind down the program on Monday at 8 p.m. EDT. Car buyers can receive rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 for trading in older vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient models.
"It's been a thrill to be part of the best economic news story in America," Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "Now we are working toward an orderly wind down of this very popular program."
Through Thursday, auto dealers have made deals worth $1.9 billion and are on pace to exhaust the program's $3 billion in early September. The incentives have generated more than 457,000 vehicle sales. Administration officials said they have reviewed nearly 40 percent of the transactions and have already paid out $145 million to dealers.
Administration officials said applications for rebates will not be accepted after 8 p.m. EDT Monday and dealers should not make additional sales without receiving all the necessary paperwork from their customers. Dealers will be able to resubmit rejected applications after the deadline.
President Barack Obama said in an interview Thursday that the program has been "successful beyond anybody's imagination" but dealers were overwhelmed by the response of consumers. He pledged that dealers "will get their money."
Dealers have complained of delays in getting reimbursed and backlogs of vehicle paperwork getting processed in the program. Dealers have said they face a risk of not being reimbursed but LaHood has pledged that dealers will get paid for the incentives.
The administration has said it has tripled the number of staffers sorting through the dealer paperwork.