Toyota Corolla overtakes Ford Focus as top seller
* Incentives total $775.2 mln through Wednesday
* Toyota Corolla overtakes Ford Focus as top seller
* Senate vote on extension likely later in week
(Adds Senate schedule, Corolla sales, clunker trade ins)
By John Crawley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sales under the U.S. government's "cash for
clunkers" auto incentive topped 180,000 with Toyota Motor Corp
overtaking Ford Motor Co with the top-selling vehicle, officials said
Separately, a Senate vote on a $2 billion proposal to extend the
"clunker" initiative will likely slip to Friday due to slow negotiations
on procedural matters, congressional aides and lobbyists said.
Senate Democratic leaders said they had the votes to clear any
Republican hurdles and give the bill, passed by the House last week,
final congressional approval.
"There's a significant majority that wants to move forward with this
legislation," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor.
The White House supports the extension.
Transportation Department figures show federal reimbursements under the
program, which offers rebates of up to $4,500 when consumers trade in
older cars for new more fuel efficient ones, totaled $775.2 million.
The consumer response since dealers began offering "clunker" rebates in
July has been overwhelming, government and industry officials say.
They expect sales already confirmed by the government and those
completed by dealers but not yet through the regulatory pipeline will
come close to exhausting the incentive's $1 billion budget.
More than 80 percent of vehicles traded-in were light trucks, including
sport utilities, pickups and vans, while 59 percent of the new vehicles
purchased were passenger cars, which as a class are more fuel efficient.
Toyota's Corolla sedan overtook the Ford Focus as the best-selling
vehicle in the "clunker" program. Toyota had two other passenger cars,
the Prius hybrid and the Camry, in the top five. The Honda Motor Co
Civic was No. 3.
Vehicles made by U.S. manufacturers accounted for all of the top 10
traded-in vehicles, which is to be expected since rebate terms require
the older model get no more than 18 miles per gallon in most cases.
The "clunker" group included five light truck models made by Ford. The
list also included three Jeep and Dodge brands made by Chrysler and two
GM Chevy models.
Increasing gas mileage and lowering tailpipe emissions are key goals of
the program, which is mainly aimed at boosting U.S. sales overall and
helping General Motors Co and Chrysler Group recover from bankruptcy.
New vehicles sold under the program average 25.3 miles per gallon while
those traded-in got 18.5 mpg.