I have an idea for the economic stimulus currently being debated coupled with the automakers request for assistance:
Why not combine both needs into one program? Here is how I would envision it would work:
Create a program where the government would pay 50% of the sales price for a new american made vehicle. Set the selling price at 10 - 15% off the average sticker price over the last 6 months. Example: A new pickup (Ford, GM, Dodge, etc) has an average MSRP of $30k. 10% off that price brings it down to $27k. American citizen pays $13,500 and the government pays $13,500. Not only will the citizen benefit through money saved, the dealership will benefit through increased sales, the manufacturer will benefit through increased sales, and the states and munucipalities will benefit through increased sales and excise taxes.