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Cash for Clunkers – Top Green Car Trade-in Picks

Posted on | August 31, 2009 | No Comments

By Robert Passikoff

If the car you own has a combined 18-mpg rating or below, you may qualify for the U.S. Government’s trade-in rebate program, aka “Cash for Clunkers.” If you qualify your old vehicle may be worth up to $4,500 towards the purchase or lease of a new, more efficient car.

The “Cash for Clunkers” program has been such a big hit with consumers that the government announced it was actually in danger of running out of funding for the program. Some dealers are running low on inventory due to the program’s popularity.

But don’t worry; the Senate has cleared the way for a vote to extend the program through Labor Day. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “In about eight or ten days, the government has proved we can get money out the door and sell almost 160,000 cars, and push about $600 million out the door in order to do it,” he added. “This is a huge boost for the economy.”

What are “Cash for Clunkers” participants buying when they trade in their clunkers? A new report released by federal transportation officials indicates that 4 out of 5 drivers are putting the rebates toward foreign-made automobiles. That doesn’t surprise us though.

According to the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, when it comes to being “Fuel Efficient and Environmentally Friendly,” here’s how the top-10 auto brands rank on those loyalty-drivers:

1. Toyota
2. BMW
3. Mercedes
4. Hyundai
5. Subaru
6. Honda
7. Nissan
8. Saab
9. Volkswagen
10. Jeep

Of course, those are just the rankings for fuel efficiency and being green – reflecting the program’s raison d’être – but still, even with other emotional and rational aspects making up the automotive category, 9 out of 10 of the cars are foreign-brands. If nothing else, these numbers reveal a lot about how consumers perceive the brands vis á vis good gas mileage, and because they’re linked to loyalty, they are leading-indicators of how they’re going to behave in the marketplace.

So if more mileage is what you’re looking for, you can check out the brands listed above. Or you might follow another route once suggested by George Carlin: Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas and just take your next trip in kilometers!

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