Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday the department would announce within 48 hours how it intends to discontinue the program that offers car buyers rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 for trading in older vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient models. Department officials met with car dealer trade groups on Wednesday to discuss how the program will eventually end and respond to complaints over a backlog of rebate payments to dealers.
Through early Wednesday, auto dealers have made deals worth $1.81 billion and are on pace to exhaust the program’s $3 billion in funds in early September. The incentives have generated more than 435,000 vehicle sales but dealers want a clear plan on when the rebates will no longer be available so they don’t end up on the hook for any of the incentives.
“We want to make sure that dealers know when we’re getting close” to running out of the money that was allocated for the program, LaHood told reporters. LaHood said he recognized that “dealers are frustrated. They’re going to get their money.”