You could get cash for your clunker - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

You could get cash for your clunker

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By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The automotive industry is in trouble and lawmakers are scrambling to find ways to help boost sales that plunged 34-percent last month.

As part of the stimulus package you can already deduct the sales tax you pay on a new car bought this year. Now Congress is considering another proposal that could be worth thousands of dollars if you trade a gas guzzler in for a high mileage new vehicle.

They're everywhere you look.  We need them to go back and forth for work and for pleasure. But car dealerships nationwide are seeing too many vehicles parked on their lots.

"Pretty tough. It's hard to make a dollar," said Albany Toyota General Manager Alan Murphy.

Things have recently started to look a little better at Albany Toyota. "We've seen an up tick in the last three months," said Murphy. Murphy says there's been some growth in both new and used car sales.

"I think the only thing holding us back is confidence from the public that they're not going to lose their job, that things can't get worse," said Murphy. The auto industry is slow these days. Lawmakers hope to rev up sales with a Cash For Clunkers Bill.

"That's an interesting concept," said Murphy.

To give auto sales a boost, drivers could get up to $4,500 for trading in older vehicles for more fuel-efficient ones with more miles per gallon. "There's a couple of upsides. One, it gets a lot of junk off the road," said Murphy.

Dealerships would receive vouchers to apply to purchases. The hope is that the incentive will generate at least a million new auto sales. "It does stimulate the market. It does give the buyer an opportunity to trade that vehicle and move into another car," said Murphy.

Murphy says the bill would be a stimulant for his dealership but with the economy the way it is, he still has questions. "The question would be--will the banks finance them on the next one?," said Murphy.

He also wonders where the $4-billion will come from for the government to pay for the program. Meanwhile Murphy feels there's a free stimulant to the auto industry--confidence. "In the time that I've been in the business, this is the fourth recession that I've been through and we always come out of it when there's a confidence factor, when people that they can afford to commit to a long-term agreement," said Murphy.

A little cash for clunkers could be the ticket to that confidence and commitment and the push to get cars from the dealership to the road. 

Once those older vehicles are traded in, dealers would have to agree to have them destroyed. The Senate still has to approve the measure.

You can also still qualify for a tax credit on some hybrid vehicles. They went into effect three years ago and have already phased out on many models.

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