'Clunker' Is Smart Stimulus

August 02, 2009|By JAY HANCOCK

Let's hope Maryland new-car dealers are getting a decent amount of cash-for-clunkers action. They need it.

Not only have sales of all cars plunged in this state. The portion of new-car sales has fallen, too.

In 2000, four cars out of every 10 sold in the state was new, according to stats from the Motor Vehicle Administration. The ratio has been falling steadily since then, and this year it went through the floor.

For the year to date through June, only 27 percent of all sales were new cars.

A few years ago, Maryland dealers were selling 1,300 or 1,400 new cars a day in June. Last month they sold a little more than 800 a day - a total of 24,509, the worst performance in at least a decade.

The first $1 billion of federal clunker cash quickly got used up. It looks like another $2 billion is on the way.

If all $3 billion gets spent, that'll mean about 670,000 new cars moved off the lots across the country. Maryland's share of that ought to be about 10,000 cars, based on our vehicle population.

That'll help dealers and reduce pollution.

It's a lot a money - but a pittance compared with bank bailouts. It's one of the smarter stimulus measures.

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