U.S. extends auto "clunker" deadline for dealers

Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:43pm EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government extended by one day the deadline for auto dealers to file paperwork on "cash for clunkers" deals, but all showroom sales must be completed by Monday night, as planned.

The Transportation Department said in a statement it would give dealerships until noon EDT on Tuesday to submit transactions for rebates under the $3 billion program begun in July.

Dealers had appealed for an extra week to clear their transactions through the agency's online processing network, which has struggled to keep pace with a heavy volume of sales and crashed for a period on Monday.

The "clunkers" incentive offers consumers up to $4,500 to trade in older vehicles for more fuel efficient new ones.

The first $1 billion in rebates was exhausted within a week while a follow-up infusion of $2 billion at the start of the month is nearly tapped out, Transportation Department figures show.

(Reporting by John Crawley; editing by Carol Bishopric)