By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
The government's new "cash for clunkers" program, which pays up to $4,500 for older cars and trucks traded in for new and more fuel-efficient vehicles, officially kicked off today, and already some car makers are seeing a huge uptick in Internet interest. Ford tells Whispers that it has logged 500,000 hits on its site, Let Ford Recycle Your Ride.
The feds say that the $1 billion program could help in some 200,000 car sales before the money runs out. And if it's the success Detroit is hoping for, look for automakers and dealers to push for the full $4 billion to be allocated to the program.
That the Ford site is being swamped by clunker owners looking for a new car or truck isn't surprising: A new Rasmussen poll finds that Americans prefer Ford to General Motors and Chrysler because Ford didn't take federal bailout money. According to the polling firm, 46 percent say they are more likely to buy a Ford because the company didn't take the money.
Ford's Washington spokeswoman, Christin Tinsworth Baker, says, "Customers appreciate that we are transforming our business without taking emergency taxpayer assistance. But the real difference people are seeing is in the strength of our new products, which are leading the industry in quality, fuel efficiency, safety, and value."
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