Cash for clunkers. What a great opportunity for consumers to affordably get their hands on new, more fuel-efficient vehicles, for dealers to sell their inventory and for automakers to ramp up vehicle production and demonstrate the cars that they’re advertising. All of the major news outlets are reporting that the cash for clunkers program is supposedly soon coming to a close – in fact, Monday is the end date planned by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Funding might even run out sooner. What’s going to happen once it’s over?

Don’t get me wrong – I am all for supporting fuel-efficient/cost-saving initiatives, as well as programs that will support all of the automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that sell quality vehicles. But the problem with the cash-for-clunkers opportunity is that it is a temporary fix. Where’s the long-term solution? What happens when there is no huge incentive to buy vehicles, and we have the same cars hanging out at lots that we did before? Everyone then has the same original problems on their hands – a few that we’re too familiar with are pressure to sell too many cars along with the need to cut production and lay off jobs.

Let’s not forget that cash for clunkers is a tactic to help quickly boost/stimulate auto sales and promote more fuel-friendly vehicles. But just as we counsel our PR clients, some tactics, if not all, are not sufficient to stand on their own when trying to create a major, lasting impact. The industry needs a long-term, viable strategy – but can all of the stakeholders align with a strategy? I’d like to be optimistic – we’ll have to wait and see.

— Jenn Korail

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