Business & Economy

Southland auto dismantler ambivalent about Cash for Clunkers

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After 5 o’clock tonight, the popular Cash for Clunkers program will roll off into the sunset. It’s moved a lot of consumers out of old cars and into new, more fuel-efficient ones. KPCC’s Brian Watt talked with one car dealer who won’t be sad when it ends.

Brian Watt: Norris Bishton owns Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Ford dealerships in Los Angeles and Orange County. Has Cash for Clunkers worked for him?

Norris Bishton: Uh, yes and no.

Watt: Yes, because his lots have sold three times more cars this month than in August of last year. But back then, he said, the market was tanking. His stores eventually had to shed 30 percent of their workers – most in sales and processing.

Bishton said the popularity of Cash for Clunkers and all the complex paperwork that came with it has overwhelmed his remaining sales reps and back office staff. Since the program began a month ago, they’ve worked night and day...

Bishton: Without time off, going home for three or four hours of sleep and coming back just trying to process these transactions.

Watt: He’s also worried that Uncle Sam will delay sending cash for the clunkers he’s sold. As of Friday, Bishton said, the federal government owed his six dealerships more than $3 million, and had only reimbursed him for two clunkers.