The cash-for-clunkers halo

Morgan Downey looks at the numbers and concludes that:
While the benefit to taxpayers may not be immediately significant, the cash for clunkers program appears to have had a halo effect on efficient vehicle sales in the US. This efficiency will strengthen the US economy against future oil price shocks and if the trend continues it is a welcome unintended benefit of the clunkers program.
Why might that be? Not sure, but here are some ideas:
The month after the clunker program ended, consumers continued to purchase more cars and small vehicles rather than larger light trucks and SUVs. Perhaps vehicle dealers realized that efficiency is the new best selling point - particularly as US consumers are in an increased saving mode following the severe recession? Maybe it took the surge in efficient vehicle sales during the clunkers program for this realization to become widespread?
This is nice news, particularly since from an environmental perspective the program was quite cost-ineffective.

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