Buyers Holding Out for Clunkers Cash

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As the 4th of July car-buying weekend approaches, dealerships throughout the country are encouraged by a series of positive signs in the market. Consumers encouraged by promising economic signs headed back to dealer showrooms last month, but sales sputtered in late June as prospective buyers waited for the government to introduce its cash-for-clunkers incentives. Experts say that people are holding onto their old beaters in hopes of tapping into some of that “clunkers cash.”

June’s selling rate slipped below the pace in May and was down sharply from last year, but auto executives said earlier this week that the market had begun a gradual recovery, supported by strengthening consumer confidence.

“The tide seems to have shifted in recent weeks, with more indicators improving than receding,” said Emily Kolinski Morris, an economist at Ford Motor Co. Ford, the only U.S. automaker not relying on federal rescue loans, recorded the best sales performance among the top six players in the market and reclaimed the No. 2 ranking from Toyota Motor Corp.

Ford’s sales were down 10.7 percent from last June, compared with an overall market decline of 27.7 percent. Its market share rose to 18 percent, a 3.4 point surge. Whoever thought we’d be saying that a 10.7% drop in sales was good news. But, right now in this economy, it is, especially when you consider the fact that Ford didn’t take any government money.

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