NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) "” What are people trading their clunkers in for? It depends on who you ask.
The government's results showed small cars as the top choice for shoppers looking for Cash for Clunker deals. But an independent analysis by Edmunds.com disputed those results, and showed that two full-size trucks and a small crossover SUV were actually among the top-ten buys.
The discrepancy is a result of the methods used. Edmunds.com uses traditional sales measurements, tallying sales by make and model. The government uses a more arcane measurement method that subdivides models according to engine and transmission types, counting them as separate models.
For example, the Ford Escape is available in six different versions including two- and four-wheel drive and hybrid versions. The government counts each version as a different vehicle using guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency. Only the front wheel drive, non-hybrid version made the government's top ten list.
The Ford Escape crossover SUV, instead of being the seventh-most popular vehicle under the program, as the government ranked it, was actually the best seller, according to Edmunds.com. The government pegged the Ford Focus as the top seller.
Trucks tend to be available in more variations than cars. That's because truck buyers have a wider variety of needs than car buyers, General Motors spokesman Brian Goebel said.
"There's just so many different uses for the truck, both retail and commercial, than with car purchasers," he said.
The Edmunds rankings, shown in the NRO link above, actually solve one problem for the Obama administration but create another. The Edmunds list has far fewer foreign cars, overcoming the criticism the program has gotten (not from me!) for promoting sales of non-American nameplates. But it creates another problem, in that most of the cars on the Edmunds list are relatively low MPG, obviating the whole point of the program.