Washington, D.C. – The U.S. CARS program, known as “Cash for Clunkers,” came to a close on Tuesday night with nearly 700,000 vehicles taken off the road and replaced by more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Rebate applications worth US$2.877 billion were submitted by the deadline, under the $3 billion provided by Congress to run the program. Cars made in the U.S. topped the most-purchased list, including the Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

“American consumers and workers were the clear winners thanks to the Cash for Clunkers program,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Manufacturing plants have added shifts and recalled workers. Moribund showrooms were brought back to life and consumers bought fuel-efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment.”

The White House Council of Economic Advisers said that, based on preliminary analysis, the program will boost economic growth in the third quarter of 2009 by 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points, sustain the GDP in the fourth quarter due to increased auto production to replace depleted inventories, and create or save 42,000 jobs in the second half of 2009.

Ford and General Motors recently announced production increases for the third and fourth quarters are a result of demand generated by the program, while Honda said it will increase production at its plants in Ohio and Alabama.

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