Oklahomans stayed fairly loyal to their old car brands when they took advantage of the Cash for Clunkers rebate program earlier this year.
State residents traded in more than 8,700 of their gas guzzlers to qualify for about $36.8 million in rebates under the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act. The program ended in August after granting $2.8 billion in rebates across the country.
The Cash for Clunkers program was intended to spur auto sales and take older, less-efficient vehicles off the streets. But it came at a time when dealer inventories were low and gasoline prices had stabilized from their highs in 2008, said Paul Taylor, chief economist at the National Automobile Dealers Association. Those factors likely limited the program’s effectiveness.
Taylor said typical new-car buyers spend an average of $28,000, so the program did little to help lower-income buyers. However, it likely provided a short-term boost to retail sales and aided industrial production in the months that followed as automakers replenished their inventories, he said.
"It probably pulled a lot of people off the fence who are not traditional new-car buyers,” Taylor said.
Oklahoma buyers chose Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota vehicles in roughly half the new purchases, according to an analysis of federal rebate data. Vehicles from the Big Three — Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Chrysler — were among the most traded-in.
Mike Fowler, chief executive officer of Fowler Auto Group, made an early commitment to the program and ended up being the state’s top dealer in Cash for Clunkers rebates. He said initial hurdles with the program’s administration, such as online rebate processing and dealer payments, were straightened out quickly.
For the most part, Oklahoma buyers who traded in medium and large trucks bought newer models of trucks, according to the rebate analysis. People who traded in small trucks mostly chose new cars, while those who traded in cars stuck with cars.
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