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Bradenton dealers hope ‘cash for clunkers’ avoids suspension

BRADENTON — Car dealers in Manatee County are anxiously awaiting the fate of the “cash for clunkers” program as it is on the verge of running out of money.

“It’s been going great until the suspension,” said Edward Dreyer, manager at Chrysler Firkins in Bradenton.

Lawmakers are reviewing the stimulus program today to determine whether to suspend the program or add more money to keep it going.

The government allocated $1 billion for the program, which started six days ago.

Cash for clunkers awards rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 to consumers who have a vehicle that gets 18 miles a gallon or less and purchase a new vehicle that is more fuel efficient by at least four miles.

Chrysler Firkins sold an estimated 20 new cars from the program.

“They finally came out with a plan to stimulate our economy, and now they’re taking it away,” Dreyer said.

That’s because only $779 million remained for rebates, according to CARS.gov, the government site managing the program. However, there is fear that figure could be far less as the government suspects there may be a backlog of sales entered by dealers but yet to be processed by the site.

The Associated Press reported today that the House of Representatives is working to pass legislation that would allocate an additional $2 billion. According to AP, lawmakers hope to have a decision on more funding next week.

“We’d be more than happy if they did put in more money,” said Mike Fulford, sales manager at Red Hoagland, which sold six cars from the program. “It’d help get more people into nicer cars. When they have a rebate it helps them out significantly, and it broadens our customer base. It’s a win-win.”

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