The "wildly popular" government program called Cash for Clunkers rev'ed up auto sales until the program ended. In the end, Cash for Clunkers cost taxpayers $24,000 for each car sold.
According to a CNN report, 690,000 cars were sold using the "get free government money" program. The article says 125,000 of those sold were autos that would have sold anyway:
...the overwhelming majority of sales would have taken place anyway at some time in the last half of 2009 [Edmunds.com] That means the government ended up spending about $24,000 each for those 125,000 additional vehicle sales.The Department of Transportation (DOT) is not happy with the way Edmunds.com analyzes the Cash for Clunkers program.
A spokesman for Ford Motor Company attributes the program with kick-starting the economy. Edmunds.com says without Cash for Clunkers, October sales would be even higher.