Cash for Clunkers wasn't a complete bust for domestic brands, especially Ford, even though brands from Japan and South Korea dominated the list of Top 10 biggest sellers under the Department of Transportation trade-in program.
The DOT noted that in part because of Cash for Clunkers, Ford and General Motors recently announced production increases for both the third and fourth quarters. Honda also said it will be increasing production at its U.S. plants in East Liberty and Marysville, Ohio and in Lincoln, Ala., the DOT said.
The Ford Focus small car and the Ford Escape small SUV were the only domestic models in the Top 10 models sold, according to the DOT. The Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Toyota Camry were No. 1, 2 and 3 ahead of the Ford Focus, the DOT said.
That outcome isn't too surprising, given that the program was created to get gas-guzzlers off the road and encourage the sale of more fuel-efficient cars. Notwithstanding recent ads from Chevrolet that show better gas mileage than Honda for several models, consumers understandably associate the Detroit Big Three with big trucks.
Dealers accepted 684,941 deals for new cars and trucks under the program, the government said. The average fuel economy of the vehicles traded in was 15.8 mpg and the average fuel economy of vehicles purchased was 24.9 mpg, according to DOT statistics.
Comparing their share of Cash for Clunkers transactions versus their U.S. market share overall, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors were all relative losers, but Ford lost the least, and any sales are welcome in the current environment. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Kia and Hyundai were all relative gainers.
It's still amazing to me that there hasn't been more politically motivated criticism of Cash for Clunkers based on the relative gains for the Asian brands, but some members of Congress could still get around to it â€" especially if they don't have any factories for the Asian brands in their districts.