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Car dealers say they are waiting for their cash

Associated Press / August 15, 2009

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WASHINGTON - Auto dealers say they still haven’t been repaid for the majority of Cash for Clunkers deals they have made, creating cash crunches for many as they wait for the government to reimburse them under the popular $3 billion vehicle trade-in program.

Some dealers report they have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rebates they have submitted to the federal government for repayment that are still outstanding, including deals that were made in the first days of the program nearly three weeks ago.

Duane Paddock, who owns a Chevrolet dealership near Buffalo, N.Y., said dealers may stop selling autos under the program because of the funding lags.

“I’ve got dealers who are reporting to me that they’ve got over $3 million that they’ve fronted and they haven’t been paid anything,’’ said Paddock, who serves as cochair of GM’s northeast region dealer council.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency overseeing the program, said yesterday that dealers have submitted requests for rebates that total $1.5 billion through the online system set up to process and pay the claims. But NHTSA did not provide a dollar figure for the amount that has actually been paid.