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Crash-for-Clunkers
June 9, 2009 7:23 PM   Subscribe

The US House of Representatives today passed a Cash-for-Clunkers bill, giving people up to $4,500 to trade in their old cars for newer, more efficient cars. Inspired by European and Chinese successes, the bill is naturally not without its detractors.
posted by spiderskull (63 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
My clunker gets good mileage; I am SOL.
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Push it in, pull it in, drag it in! No reasonable offer refused!
posted by box at 7:30 PM on June 9, 2009


"At last, a bail-out for the little guy"?
posted by Decimask at 7:31 PM on June 9, 2009


They should do this with children.
posted by swift at 7:32 PM on June 9, 2009 [5 favorites]


I did something similar a number of years ago. California offered me $900 to get my junker off the road. I invested it in a bicycle. It was awesome.

I'm not sure how well this will work though. My anecdata* shows that the people most likely to have qualifying vehicle aren't going to have the best credit, so that $4,500 isn't going to do them a damned bit of good.

*statistical sample size: me and some people I know
posted by lekvar at 7:33 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoa so I have a 4x4 truck (don't ask), that I've been looking to get rid of. If I trade that in for a Prius do I get the hybrid/green tax cut and this one? Because if I go used I'm looking at a near free car.
posted by geoff. at 7:34 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you know what would increase the quality, frequency, and affordability of public transportation? More people using it.

Do you know what would make more people use public transportation? Increasing the cost of driving.

Let's see if you can get the third one:

Do you know what makes driving less expensive?
posted by christonabike at 7:39 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


geoff. If I trade that in for a Prius do I get the hybrid/green tax cut and this one?

I'm pretty sure the Prius no longer qualifies for that -- it was only for the first several thousand models. The Ford Fusion Hybrid and a few others (Nissan Altima), though, still do.
posted by spiderskull at 7:39 PM on June 9, 2009


That "awwwp!" you just heard is the sound of 10,000 independent used car dealers being stabbed in the neck. "Used car dealer" stereotypes notwithstanding, most are small family run businesses, and for the most part their lots are as full of high MPG cars as the big new car franchises. Most used car dealerships are in seriously bad economic shape at the moment, and Congress just pulled the life support.

Also, it's hard to take a bill's environmental credentials seriously when it excludes pre-1984 cars, which are the most polluting of all.
posted by dacoit at 7:39 PM on June 9, 2009


dacoit -- it's pretty rare to see cars that old around, at least here in California (which you'd expect to have a higher number of older cars, what with our mild environment obviating any rust concerns). Of course, this may not be the case in other regions.
posted by spiderskull at 7:43 PM on June 9, 2009


My very old BMW still gets about 25 mpg.
posted by orthogonality at 7:48 PM on June 9, 2009


$3500 for a one mile per gallon improvement (for SUVs/trucks) in efficiency seems like a lot of money for a government that is already stretched thin to be paying. That will save half a gallon of gas for every 100 miles driven. Seems like that would barely offset the carbon emissions required to build a new car.

The money would be better spent by converting the measuring standard to gallons per mile instead of the current miles per gallon.

Maybe I'm just bitter because Obama's automobile boner is obscuring his vision and does nothing for me, a walker/transit rider.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:48 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


The required increase in fuel efficiency is kind of laughable. At work (environmental nonprofit) we like this concept. Only wish this incarnation actually had teeth.
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:48 PM on June 9, 2009


So.. I buy a clunker for $4500 (rebate value).. drive it for 5 years.. then sell it again for $4500 (rebate value). This is a recipe for keeping clunkers on the road, no depreciation! It's like your parents giving you a loaner car, it's almost a free car (other than gas and expenses).
posted by stbalbach at 7:48 PM on June 9, 2009


spiderskull ... if that's the case, then all the more reason there's little point in putting in a pre-1984 exclusion.

What gets to me is that here we have an industry (auto dealers) with big players (big franchise dealerships) and little ones (small family car lots), and here Congress is basically paying car shoppers to avoid the small businesses and go to the big ones. It doesn't seem fair somehow.
posted by dacoit at 7:50 PM on June 9, 2009


Things are looking up for government run businesses.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:52 PM on June 9, 2009


So.. I buy a clunker for $4500 (rebate value).. drive it for 5 years.. then sell it again for $4500 (rebate value). This is a recipe for keeping clunkers on the road, no depreciation! It's like your parents giving you a loaner car, it's almost a free car (other than gas and expenses).

Nope, this is a one shot program. Trade in a clunker in the next year or lose your chance. Personally, I'm going to trade in the Blazer that's darkening my side yard for a sweet gas sipping import.
posted by TungstenChef at 7:57 PM on June 9, 2009


Doesn't seem like a well implemented program. I point to this:

Owners of sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks or minivans that get 18 mpg or less could receive a voucher for $3,500 if their new truck or SUV is at least 2 mpg higher than their old vehicle.


$3500 for improving your fuel efficiency by 2 mpg? What a joke. The program should require at least 25 mpg on any new vehicle before you get anything, and should only offer the larger vouchers to anyone getting a car over 30-35 mpg.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:57 PM on June 9, 2009


Maybe I'm just bitter because Obama's automobile boner is obscuring his vision and does nothing for me, a walker/transit rider.

That's a bit unfair, considering he and his administration are proponents of trains. The automobile policy is tied more to the jobs and the economics behind the car industry, rather than the cars themselves. Also, Obama is nothing if not pragmatic, and this nation is kind of stuck with cars for at least the next two decades. So, practically speaking, emphasizing more environmentally friendly cars makes sense, even though I, like you, would much rather have better public transportation systems.

spiderskull ... if that's the case, then all the more reason there's little point in putting in a pre-1984 exclusion.
Yeah, it's definitely weird, but I wonder if they added it as a way of keeping people from committing fraud by trading in their already-broken cars for the cash (which I imagine they're going to do anyway), and they just figured most cars before 1984 aren't primary commuting cars.
posted by spiderskull at 7:58 PM on June 9, 2009


$3500 for improving your fuel efficiency by 2 mpg? What a joke.

The difference between 10 MPG and 12 MPG is much bigger than 25 MPG and 28 MPG in terms of gas consumption. Compare the GPM and it makes sense.
posted by spiderskull at 7:59 PM on June 9, 2009


Ha, I can't do math... that should be 25 MPG and 28 MPG, but you get the point.
posted by spiderskull at 7:59 PM on June 9, 2009


spiderskull: The difference between 10 MPG and 12 MPG is much bigger than 25 MPG and 28 MPG in terms of gas consumption. Compare the GPM and it makes sense.

True, but the government shouldn't be encouraging anyone to get a vehicle of less than 25 mpg. Hell, I don't think a vehicle that gets 10 mpg and isn't a serious commercial vehicle requiring a CDL or an RV should be allowed, period.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:04 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Spiderskull, the administration may be pro-rail, but Biden clearly has cars on his mind since he mistook a giant rail tunnel as being for cars.
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:17 PM on June 9, 2009


The program should require at least 25 mpg on any new vehicle before you get anything, and should only offer the larger vouchers to anyone getting a car over 30-35 mpg.

30-35 mpg in *any* car. I don't like the idea of the government subsidizing "hybrid" cars only. I mean, according to the list, you can get over $2000 dollars for buying a hybrid Cadillac Escalade. A person can receive a discount on a vehicle that not only costs $75,000, but the government has specifically attributed these discounts to products made by certain companies.

This may provide incentive for other non-hybrid producing car companies to begin to produce hybrids, but the selective discounts applied to companies that produce such ridiculous contraptions as a hybrid Escalade astounds me.

"At last, a bail-out for the little guy"?

I tend to think not. One example would be the pretty default pickup, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. The base model starts at $20,370, while the hybrid model starts at $39,015. The Ford Escape starts at $20,435 for the base model, and $29,645 for the hybrid model. Basically, the little guy is looking at paying 50-100% more to upgrade to a hybrid model of the same car.

I don't like this at all. The little guy isn't getting a discount for buying that basic small engine Honda Civic that gets 34 MPG highway, it is the people who can afford to pay the extra 10-$20,000 for the hybrid plaque on the back that get the discount. There must be a better way to do this than subsidizing only selected cars from selected companies that contain a battery and power generating brakes... some getting less than 1/3 of the mileage of an efficient gasoline compact car.
posted by clearly at 8:34 PM on June 9, 2009


"At last, a bail-out for the little guy"?

no, it's a bail-out for the middle class - the little guy can't afford a new car - in fact, the rebate's more money than i PAID for my 24-26 mpg '97 ford escort

---

The difference between 10 MPG and 12 MPG is much bigger than 25 MPG and 28 MPG in terms of gas consumption.

gas is 2.89 a gallon - so, 10 mpg would be 29c a mile and 12 mpg would be 25c a mile - that's 4 cents a mile savings

that means that a person would have to drive 87,500 miles to equal the government's investment in his gas savings

25 mph a gallon = 11 1/2 cents
28 mph a gallon = 10.3

that's 1.2 cents savings a mile and the government doesn't equal its investment until 291k miles

can we say incredibly wasteful boondoggle?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:36 PM on June 9, 2009


of course, if you're trading a 10 mpg car for a 28 mpg car, even at 4500 bucks - well, there the government's equalling the savings after 25k miles, which sounds reasonable

the point is, the people who came up with this didn't do the math or didn't care and didn't come up with a formula that would give them a decent bang for the buck

and they're only running our government and trying to rescue a good piece of the world's economy

that worries me
posted by pyramid termite at 8:46 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know I can! INCREDIBLY WASTEFUL BOONDOGGLE!
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:51 PM on June 9, 2009


While I greatly appreciate the introduction of quantitative analysis, I can't say I follow the logic on how savings in gas expenditures relate to either a boost in car manufacturers revenues or to reducing emissions, which are the two justifications for programs like this.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:52 PM on June 9, 2009



My clunker gets good mileage; I am SOL.


Same here, if only I had bought a hummer instead of a Geo Metro I could be rewarded with an environmental tax credit for switching to a Prius.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:58 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I heard they tried this once in some progressive European country.
I heard the car lots raised their prices on qualified vehicles by $4,500.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:01 PM on June 9, 2009


While I greatly appreciate the introduction of quantitative analysis, I can't say I follow the logic on how savings in gas expenditures relate to either a boost in car manufacturers revenues or to reducing emissions, which are the two justifications for programs like this.

where does it say that only american car manufacturers' cars qualify?

and the article does in fact list fuel efficiency as a justification - and says nothing about emission standards
posted by pyramid termite at 9:08 PM on June 9, 2009


Perhaps every American adult should just write Toyota a $4500 check and be done with it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:20 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damnit. I want a bonus for willfully never owning a damn car in the first place!

Can I at least have a free BART pass or something?
posted by loquacious at 9:30 PM on June 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Confusing bit of the article:

It was intended to help replace older vehicles — built in model year 1984 or later — and would not make financial sense for consumers owning an older car with a trade-in value greater than $3,500 or $4,500.

This is either a typo or a awkward phrasing. I have a 1983 car with horrid mileage (12 MPG) that would make perfectly good financial sense to trade in. Am I reading this right to figure I'm SOL? Granted, I'd usually prefer to purchase a used car anyway, but the stipend would tempt me with new.

What an odd little exemption if true.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:34 PM on June 9, 2009


So, are they going to calculate the MPG as it was when the car was purchased? My 93 Ford escort wagon certainly does not still get 24 MPG. I would do this so fast it might make some folks heads spin...
posted by schyler523 at 9:37 PM on June 9, 2009


"it's hard to take a bill's environmental credentials seriously when it excludes pre-1984 cars, which are the most polluting of all."

And contribute a sub-minuscule fraction to the total annual miles driven. Besides the vast majority of these cars are equipped with catalytic converters and electronic fuel management systems. They aren't as clean as modern cars but they also for the most part aren't high compression, straight pipe, dual carb, 3/4 cam, big block gross polluters either. It doesn't make fiscal sense to get these cars off the road as natural attrition will do the job almost as well. The cars that won't fall to attrition are the cars that are worth more than the trade value.

The cars you want to target are all those hyper reliable 90s Toyotas and Hondas. Cars whose catalytic converter failed so long ago that the check engine light has burned out but will still run for another 100K miles before the bodies rust off.

This is a tip to the AAIA/SEMA lobby as 25 years old is when cars start being considered to be vintage or classic in many jurisdictions.
posted by Mitheral at 10:13 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cause we all know it is a great thing to trash hyper reliable vehicles just because.
(aren't there emissions tests to force converter repairs when necessary?)
posted by Chuckles at 10:22 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I should have qualified that the cars you want to target if your only goal is to remove polluting cars from the road are [...].
posted by Mitheral at 10:29 PM on June 9, 2009


Seems like a broken-window fallacy writ large to me. If the idea were just to write people a check that they could use to purchase new cars, fine — I think it's a stupid industry that we shouldn't be trying to stimulate, but whatever. It's probably not the stupidest way the government will spend unimaginable quantities of money today.

However, they're instead spending money to take cars that work and have them destroyed. And they're not even requiring that the replacement vehicles have substantially higher mileage.

So someone might have a car worth $4000 that they turn in towards a new car, which gets only marginally better mileage. The old car is destroyed, as per the program, and what have we gained exactly? Making new cars requires a huge energy investment: every new car starts off its life with a substantial "debt." Since the new car doesn't have to get much better mileage, it might never pay off that debt in its lifespan — better to just let the older car remain on the road!

All I see is a phenomenal amount of waste. Perfectly good, operational cars are going to go to the crusher, in order to encourage people to purchase new cars that aren't significantly better. Not only will we be wasting taxpayer dollars directly for the program, we'll also be wasting energy at every step of the process.

Seems like the biggest and most wasteful boondoggle since corn-based ethanol. On its surface it purports to be an environmentally-friendly program, in reality I suspect it'll turn out to be everything but.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:45 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


According to this article the vehicles to be traded in must have been made between 1984 and 2001.

I assume we'll here more details in the time to come. It still has to pass the Senate, so it's final form may change.
posted by eye of newt at 10:56 PM on June 9, 2009


The fightcashforclunkers.org site appears to be created by a Chicago marketing group for The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, an industry group that represents independent used car salesmen, repair shops, parts stores and distribution outlets.

They see this as a threat, because new cars cut into their profits, while decreasing the availability of older, dysfunctional vehicles on the road.

They claim that landfills are a problem, but in the U.S., 84 percent of cars (by weight) are recycled and 95 percent of vehicles go through the recycling process... and the legislation in question seems to mandate that all of them be taken off the road permanently and recycled. So the argument about significantly increasing the burden on landfills just doesn't hold water.

Likewise, although whatever trade-ins can be gamed to allow consumers to get discounts on cars that are only minimally more efficient... what sense does that really make? Why would consumers necessarily want to purchase a car that's inefficient? Hell... take a look at the cars that are actually selling well in the marketplace already, as a guide for what consumers would *like* to buy if they could, and you'll see a list of very efficient cars.

And while some are looking at this as an incredibly expensive government program to increase one individual's fuel efficiency, that is not what this will do, in an economic sense. In reality, it will noticeably decrease demand for gasoline in the U.S.... and small percentile decreases in demand result in significantly greater percentile decreases in oil and gasoline prices, which will save money for *ALL* Americans, and even for the government itself.

... and that doesn't mention the stimulus effect it will have on the economy as a whole, in saving and creating jobs, increasing consumer spending, increasing tourism, etc.

So no. It's not the worst thing in the world, even if a nation full of inefficient gas hogs is generally good news for public transportation. We already have that status quo, and I can't see how it's really lead to a strong, popular, highly efficient public transportation system. It has led to increased global warming, however.
posted by markkraft at 11:11 PM on June 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, good catch markkraft! It makes me re-think giving them web traffic, since they're hiding behind the guise of "it's wasteful!"
posted by spiderskull at 11:17 PM on June 9, 2009


markkraft: The best-selling cars in December of 2008 were the Ford F-Series and the Chevy Silverado. (They have held the #1 and #2 slots by comfortably margins since 2006, IIRC.) If there's anything that we should have learned from the past 20 years or so, it's that consumers will purchase inefficient vehicles. They do it all the time.

Why exactly people do this is up for debate. I suspect it's psychological; big vehicles are comfortable and offer features (in terms of passenger/cargo capacity) that are readily apparent on the lot. Fuel economy is just a number on the sticker. Although some people do make rational purchases by extrapolating out that fuel-consumption figure and bearing in mind the mileage they drive per month, and then balancing or at least keeping that in mind while sitting in or test-driving cars, a lot of people don't. If they did, we wouldn't have nearly as many gas guzzlers driving around on the road as we do. A car purchase, in many cases, is more of an emotionally-driven decision than a rational one.

I think it's incredibly unlikely that the proposed scheme will have a significant fuel savings at all, and certainly will be a net loser in terms of energy invested when you look at the manufacturing debt.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:45 PM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


What kadin says. IMO it is likely that more pollution is emitted and more energy used to build a new car than would be consumed by an old car in most circumstances.

This seems like a really stupid way to waste a lot of money to achieve nothing much at all.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:06 AM on June 10, 2009


This reminds me of the half-assed alternative-fuel tax credit that was started in 2007 with idealistic notions that gave way to rapant abuse by the paper mill industry.

I wish they'd just build something really, really big. A Hoover Dam for the 21st century. Something you can take pictures in front of.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:58 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why ya-all plotting and a worrying? The President hasn't signed anything yet.
(but if he does - I got a van that gets crap mileage I wanted to be rid of)
posted by rough ashlar at 3:14 AM on June 10, 2009


Well, I don't know about you guys and all your theories why this is a bad idea, but for me, for once, its something good. It would help me move up from my 15-year-old Oldsmobile to a much more fuel efficient car (and safer, my clunker has recurring brake problems). And I maintain, with the same level of anecdotal and suppositional evidence everyone else is spouting, there are a lot of folks in my situation.

Many of the comments I see here are about exceptional situations where this plan is flawed, forgetting that national programs are about vast majorities, and its hard to avoid loopholes. This is about mass effects, and it probably will reduce fuel consumption and pollution significantly. Other comments are about the perfect getting in the way of the good. The country is not going to switch to mass transit overnight. And speaking of exceptions, where I live there is no mass transit. It's drive or die.

And you know what? Some clown in a Hummer getting a couple thousand he doesn't deserve bothers me a lot less than me and millions of other other fine folks getting nothing at all.

I'll take the incentive. I got no bail out. I got no golden parachute. I live on sandwiches. I've been screwed over in just about everything that's come down the pike in the last few years. It's about time the politicians started pandering to me for once.
posted by tommyD at 3:38 AM on June 10, 2009


The problem for me is that my 20 year old car that gets 15 miles a gallon was originally rated for 20 - 27mpg. So despite that fact that my mileage sucks now, it was rated well then so, no trade-in. Which is too bad, because I'd do it in a second.
posted by horsemuth at 4:59 AM on June 10, 2009


Great news for Government Motors!
posted by sfenders at 5:24 AM on June 10, 2009


What kadin says. IMO it is likely that more pollution is emitted and more energy used to build a new car than would be consumed by an old car in most circumstances.

I hear this all the time, and frankly I think it's just B.S. that conservatives have managed to get inserted into the mainstream, like how social security is going to explode and kill us all.

Here is a google answers post on the topic I just found:
Much less energy is used to manufacture a vehicle than is used by the vehicle during its useful lifetime so a small improvement in fuel efficency would have a significent impact on the energy footprint of
the motor vehicle industry.
...
A California-oriented paper http://www.environmentaldefense.org/documents/3986_CAautocarbonburden.pdf states that direct tailpipe emission of CO2 accounts for 68% of the average vehicle lifecycle carbon emissions, with 21 percent linked to production and delivery of fuel, and 11 percent are due to manufacturing, including materials production.
There are a lot more links in the answer, and obviously there are some people who don't drive much, and therefore their cars don't emit much carbon. But using the figures provided above, they would have to drive their vehicles 1/10th as much in order actually have CO2 emissions be dominated by production, rather then use.

On the other hand, if the car is less then 10 % more efficient, then I see how you could make that argument (so replacing a car that gets 20Mpg with one that gets 22mpg would be at about the break even point, but you would save a ton of gas replacing a Tahoe with a Prius, even counting the energy released by creating Prius)
posted by delmoi at 5:50 AM on June 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's a measure to boost short term vehicle sales. Everything else surrounding that is fluff.

The automakers are drowning in inventory and suffering serious cashflow problems that threaten their very existence and, by extension, the jobs of everyone who works for them or makes a living supplying them. The stock levels of light trucks and SUVs are particularly bad as their sales started falling off a cliff at the start of 2008 when the gas price was through the roof, so there had to be something in this to encourage people to buy those. The environmental benefits (if they exist at all) are merely sugaring the pill. The simple economics are that it's cheaper for the government to boost vehicle sales with a measure like this than it would be for the government to use more funds bailing out automakers, or paying out unemployment cheques to the workers who would get laid off if those automakers went under.

The long term problem for the industry is that this isn't creating new sales, it's merely pulling sales forward from next year or the year after. The French used a scrappage scheme in the 80s to support domestic car manufacturing, but it took a long time after the economy had recovered for auto sales to begin to climb back to their original level.

No matter how they dress it up, this isn't about saving the planet, saving the great American people money or reducing oil consumption. It's about saving the US auto manufacturing industry.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 6:36 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anyone know if the 2008 change in MPG ratings are taken into account here?

We have a 1996 wagon that gets 19MPG combined using the old ratings. I hope the 18 number is based on the new standard and there will be some trivial normalization factor for ratings done prior to the change.
posted by batou_ at 6:43 AM on June 10, 2009


Energy conservation is probably one of the most cost-effective and feasible ways of reducing our overall energy consumption. Providing incentives to consumers and businesses that will help them with the initial investment to achieve this, whether with cars or furnaces, seems to make sense. Especially when there is a wide range in efficiency of the installed base. What other alternatives are people suggesting to get inefficient machines out of use?
posted by snofoam at 6:44 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The car I use when I visit my parents has 132900 miles on it. Maybe when it breaks down, I'll send it in for rent payment or something - it ought to last until I finish undergrad.
posted by kldickson at 7:51 AM on June 10, 2009


This does absolutely nothing useful for consumers. It is a new car dealer subsidy.

With the economy, or perception of the economy being as it is, people are buying used cars and letting someone else take the depreciation hit, or keeping their old car.

Since the cash for clunkers program only applies to brand new cars anyone that wants to get in this program cannot buy a used vehicle with 1,000 miles on it. Cars take a 30-40% hit just going off the dealers lot, lets see how this works:

The Packard gromobulator:

new:

$30,000 - 4500 = 25,500 financed

Used:

$30,000 *.3 = 9,000 used car discount
$1,000 trade in value of "clunker"
$30,000 - 9,000 - 1,000 = 20,000 financed

So, people will sign on the line for a new car, thinking they are getting a deal that makes a new car more affordable than used. there is no real reason this program couldn't apply to used cars less than 3 years old, less than x,xxx miles, but since this is a subsidy and has nothing to do with helping the environment or the consumer, they won't do that.

Auto-maker pork, plain and simple. The 1984-2001 rule kind of stumps me, but it would keep me from taking my 1970 clunker to the dealer and cashing in. Maybe they want to get cars that are usable as daily transport off the road, ones that compete for people's dollars with the dealers, not junk taking up space in peoples backyards.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 9:33 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Ultimate Olympian: No matter how they dress it up, this isn't about saving the planet, saving the great American people money or reducing oil consumption. It's about saving the US auto manufacturing industry.

If that was 100% true, then this would be a voucher granted on top of the trade-in value. I was pretty excited about trading in our van under this program until I realized (duh) that it's just a price floor on the trade-in value. This obviously means that if the FMV of your current clunker is over $3500/$4500, then this program is a non-starter for you. In any event, the fact that the program is set up as "the government buys your car" rather than "the government augments your trade-in value" demonstrates that the environmental impact (negligible though it will be) of the program is at least a small part of its raison d'être. In addition, see below.

loquacious: Can I at least have a free BART pass or something

According to this article in the SF Chronicle, the vouchers "... could also be used for mass transit." Doesn't help if you don't have a car to trade in, obviously (unless you go buy yourself a clunker to trade in?), but it's a nice touch (and incidentally, also helps refute the assertion that this program is solely about propping up the U.S. auto industry).
posted by Doofus Magoo at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


The voucher could be used to buy a new vehicle or a used one from 2004 or later,
That is the first place I've read that. If true It makes it a bit less of a pork project, but I am still quite suspicious of handouts.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 10:24 AM on June 10, 2009


Although some people do make rational purchases by extrapolating out that fuel-consumption figure and bearing in mind the mileage they drive per month, and then balancing or at least keeping that in mind while sitting in or test-driving cars, a lot of people don't.

Hmmm . . . an interesting idea would be to actually calculate out how much per month in gasoline costs each car would have, depending on its fuel economy. And (most important) then print this in large numbers on the fuel economy sticker on each car sold.

They do something like this for appliances and my impression is the dollars per month figure makes a bigger impression on most consumers than a more abstract number like miles per gallon.

Even though you would have to use average fuel cost & mileage figures it would still give a standard number consumers could use to easily compare one vehicle with the next. For example:

TYPICAL FUEL COST FOR THIS VEHICLE: $260 PER MONTH
(assuming 15,000 miles per year and $2.50/gallon gasln)

By the way the above is indeed the actual cost of fuel for a 12MPH vehicle using those assumptions.
posted by flug at 11:52 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


This really does seem stupid. I can't afford to have a car note on a brand new car, but $4500 to trade in my 1994 Explorer towards a used vehicle would go a whole lot further. Texas has a similar program that is a way better idea, except for its income restrictions. There should be no reason to exclude used vehicles. There are thousands of very fuel efficient cars sitting on car lots right now that will go unpurchased under this program because they're 'used'.

Seems pretty silly to me. Carmax has several Honda Civics that I would buy tomorrow if I had a $4500 voucher for my current vehicle. The Civics get *twice* the gas milage.
posted by drstein at 11:56 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I dunno, but it seems like a fairly good idea to me. You help jump start new auto purchases, which helps the governments recent investments in the automakers seem a little less like throwing money in a hole. At the same time, you attach strings so that the new car must get better mileage than the car being traded in. The old car is destroyed, so it doesn't just turn around and go back on the user car market.

Seems to me that's an OK way to a) get auto sales up, which presumably will have some trickle-out affect on the economy as a whole, and b) increase the fuel economy average for the country by a percent or two. It does punish those who've purchased fuel efficient cars in the past, but I guess life isn't fair.
posted by Eddie Mars at 1:58 PM on June 10, 2009


They should do this with children.
posted by swift at 7:32 PM on June 9 [5 favorites +] [!]


Last time I was camping, I had to share a tent with my two younger cousins—those two "clunkers" leaked gas like sieves.
posted by blueberry at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


With the cars being scrapped would that mean that the voucher would be instead of the trade in value?
posted by zeoslap at 7:18 AM on June 11, 2009


Instead of scrapping, it'd be way better to swap them for the real beaters in other, poorer nations. Then everyone gets an upgrade!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:39 AM on June 11, 2009


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