Updated: Aug. 20, 5:46 p.m.
The White House said Thursday that it is ending the popular Cash for Clunkers automobile rebate program on Monday and will not lobby lawmakers to extend the program again.
“Right now we are focused on winding down the program in an orderly way by providing a soft landing and getting the applications processed and the dealers paid,— a senior administration official said. “There is no plan to seek additional funding to have an additional extension of the program.—
Cash for Clunkers provides customers with up to $4,500 to trade in their older gas-guzzlers for new, more fuel-efficient models.
The Transportation Department, which will end the program on Monday at 8 p.m., estimates it spent $1.9 million as of Thursday — nearly two thirds of the program’s overall $3 billion price tag — on more than 450,000 trade-ins.
“This program has been a life line to the automobile industry jump starting a major sector of the economy and putting people back to work,— Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “At the same time, we’ve been able to take old, polluting cars off the road and help consumers purchase fuel-efficient vehicles.—
Nearly every mouth up and down the automotive food chain lobbied heavily earlier this year for the initial legislation, which was billed as being both good for the environment and the ailing economy.
Lawmakers gave the program a fresh infusion of cash before departing for the August recess.
Ford Motor Co. on Thursday afternoon praised Cash for Clunkers for helping “jumpstart sales and consumer confidence.—
“In addition to being an effective stimulus, it is clearly driving consumers to more fuel-efficient vehicles, which will help reduce our nation’s fuel consumption and carbon footprint,— the company said in a statement.
Following the White House’s announcement on Thursday afternoon, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, said in a statement that “a more fuel-efficient, clean energy era in America is just beginning.—
“America must now invest in plug-in hybrid and other advanced vehicle technology, so when the new cars of today become the clunkers of tomorrow, American consumers can trade-in for a plug-in,— Markey said.
The statement continued: “It is time to take the Cash for Clunkers success and pass a comprehensive climate and energy policy that saves money, saves oil, and saves the planet.