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Cash for clunkers
July 31, 2009 11:17 AM   Subscribe

How to destroy an engine. (slyt)

Another 2 billion ready to go for your new car purchase via the CARS program. More good news for American business today.
posted by nervousfritz (134 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Oldsmobile Aurora engine was one of the finest that GM ever produced. It was used in the Indy Racing League for a while. What a waste.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:20 AM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Okay, now I know how.

But why?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:22 AM on July 31, 2009


god, it made me so tense.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:22 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Makes me literally sick to my stomach to watch this.
posted by SteelyDuran at 11:23 AM on July 31, 2009


Obama is creating a socialist state! He's a moon man socialist! Hence, I shall abuse his sweet, sweet socialist programs. Even though he is an alien moon socialist, I will take his government dollars and even destroy my car to get at them. Because he is a moon man. Socialist.
posted by GilloD at 11:25 AM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, that's a really fucking stupid thing to do.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 11:25 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


But why?

A dead "clunker" cannot easily be resold.

Wasn't there a thread on Metafilter about a container ship that had tipped sideways, and the insurance company required that the Miatas inside were destroyed, as a condition for the payout?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:27 AM on July 31, 2009


Epically stupid waste. And 25% of that car will end up in a landfill.
posted by spacely_sprocket at 11:28 AM on July 31, 2009


I thought the fate of cars in the program was that usable parts would be removed and sold and the rest would be scrapped and recycled. Given that, what's the point of seizing the engine? Seems like it just means it has to be towed rather than driven to the scrapyard.
posted by jedicus at 11:29 AM on July 31, 2009


Some of the comments are off the mark, in the youtube video though. The whole car doesn't go to a landfill. All of the parts can be repurposed or sold as scrap. The stipulation in the law is that the car can't be sold whole and driven again. So the "brand new tires" on that car? They can still be used as tires.

That being said, it looked like that fine GM product had not only gone the distance but was running strong at almost 250K miles. Detroit did make some good cars, over the last 10 years especially, but the reputation of the 80s (and a few years on either side) has been hard to shake.
posted by indiebass at 11:29 AM on July 31, 2009


beat me, jedicus. The point, from the law's view, was that they do NOT want these cars being double-dipped, getting the gov't benefit AND being resold, since that would just keep the same 'inefficient' vehicle on the road.
posted by indiebass at 11:31 AM on July 31, 2009


Awful program, horrible video.

I loathe that this money is being used to encourage more single occupancy driving, whereas transportation bills to further mass transit/rail/bike infrastructure languish as "pet projects". For years.
posted by hollisimo at 11:31 AM on July 31, 2009 [9 favorites]


Here's the MeFi post I was talking about.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:35 AM on July 31, 2009


God, that made me so angry. Twisted face angry. I need to go for a walk now.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:37 AM on July 31, 2009


So does the govt auction them off to yards who part them out on eBay? Or just dig a new hole and dump them all in?
posted by ghiacursed at 11:41 AM on July 31, 2009


I'm not gettin' all the anger here. The government "bought" the cars to get them off the road and get people buying newer, hopefully more efficient models while helping kick-start the economy. Now you can get wound up over the government spending, but it isn't much different then any other government spending.

If they left the cars in usable condition, they would just be resold, and the entire point of the program would be lost.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:44 AM on July 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm driving a 15-year-old Ford Taurus (same color as the vintage Taurus that Conan O'Brien used in his 'driving in L.A.' sketch) and its mileage is too good to be a CARS clunker! (have I thanked mathowie enough for Fuelly?)

This program is just an auto industry stimulus disguised as an eco-friendly initiative. I only wish they disguised Health Care Reform as well...
posted by wendell at 11:44 AM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Seething here...

I drive a 19-year old CRX that is literally falling apart. Still gets 35 MPG, though, even with so much ring blow-by that the crankcase pressure is able to push the oil filler cap out of your hand if it's not put on tight. It burns about a quart every 1000 miles.

But it's not a clunker, and a five-year-old Volvo with all the trimmings is.

WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
CONGRESS?
posted by notsnot at 11:49 AM on July 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure what the fuss is.
posted by boo_radley at 11:50 AM on July 31, 2009


Bovine Love: "I'm not gettin' all the anger here. The government "bought" the cars to get them off the road and get people buying newer, hopefully more efficient models while helping kick-start the economy. Now you can get wound up over the government spending, but it isn't much different then any other government spending.

If they left the cars in usable condition, they would just be resold, and the entire point of the program would be lost.
"

Newer, more efficient is synonymous with greater short-term expense. Poor people and people that need a car but don't need it that frequently either can not or would not rather be forced to bear this expense.
posted by vapidave at 11:52 AM on July 31, 2009




.
posted by Man with Lantern at 11:52 AM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder how many of the people being tricked into buying a new car through this program won't be able to afford them when their mortgage resets again next month and they get laid off.
posted by Big_B at 11:55 AM on July 31, 2009


This program is just an auto industry stimulus disguised as an eco-friendly initiative.

Why can't it be both? People are not going to stop driving anytime soon, so the best option is to get people into more efficient vehicles. We also need to insure the clunkers are forever off the road, otherwise the program is a moot point.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:56 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not a SLYT post when you have five links.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:56 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes. One MPG improvement will definitely stop global warming. Uh huh.
posted by Big_B at 11:57 AM on July 31, 2009


I'm not sure but I'm pretty sure the car has to drive into the dealership under its own power. I.E. not being towed.

I'd lace up my lollerskates for a spin 'round the roflcopter if they did this to their car and couldn't trade it in.
posted by TomMelee at 11:57 AM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I drive a 19-year old CRX that is literally falling apart. Still gets 35 MPG, though

So you would agree this is an eco-friendly initiative, to some degree?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:58 AM on July 31, 2009


Wait, don't the clunkers have to be driveable?
posted by zardoz at 11:58 AM on July 31, 2009


Some of the comments are off the mark, in the youtube video

You don't say.
posted by mhoye at 11:58 AM on July 31, 2009


Poor people and people that need a car but don't need it that frequently either can not or would not rather be forced to bear this expense.

Cash for clunkers is a voluntary program. No one is forcing anyone to buy a new car.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:01 PM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


From the video: This is what has to be done when a cash-for-clunkers comes in, since we cannot resell the engine

Understandable, but surely it would also be relatively easy to reclaim some of the engine's components for use by those of us that can't afford a new car.
As far as that particular car goes, I have driven three Oldsmobiles in my tenure as car-owner, and they were all absolutely bullet-proof. I called one of them "my miracle car," because by all rights, it should not have been able to start or sustain an idle.
posted by neewom at 12:02 PM on July 31, 2009


This program is just an auto industry stimulus disguised as an eco-friendly initiative.

Why can't it be both?


Could it be because a lot of resources are used to make all those new cars?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:04 PM on July 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


I propose a 'cash for clinkers' program, where I will throw rocks through your inefficient windows to make work for glaziers.
posted by anthill at 12:08 PM on July 31, 2009 [11 favorites]


From the FAQ, which would do most people good to read to stop all the misunderstanding apparent in the comments:

Can a dealer resell the traded-in vehicle?

The CARS Act requires that the trade-in vehicle be crushed or shredded so that it will not be resold for use in the United States or elsewhere as an automobile. The entity crushing or shredding the vehicles in this manner will be allowed to sell some parts of the vehicle prior to crushing or shredding it, but these parts cannot include the engine or the drive train.
posted by Muddler at 12:08 PM on July 31, 2009


Just to be clear... you drive to the dealer and then the dealer (like the one in this video) does this. You don't do it previously, correct?

(Not that I'm going to do it but it seems most MeFites are thinking this is instruction for people to do before trading in the vehicle, which I don't think it is.)
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:08 PM on July 31, 2009


Okay, people, look. There is an old saying: The perfect is the enemy of the good. Yes cars are a problem, yes Americans drive too much. Yes, cars are made of various resources. But there are other facts on the ground. Firstly, people drive. People are going to continue driving whether you all like it or not. I suspect a good number of people on this board drive. So if people are driving would we rather have them drive inefficient cars or efficient ones?
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:10 PM on July 31, 2009


I don't know what to think about this. They bought them, they can kill them. The cars will be sent to salvage, and no-one in their right mind will buy the engine out of a 95 achieva with 250k on the clock anyway.

On the other hand, as a person that likes cars, putting sand in an engine on purpose gives me the heebie jeebies. At VW shows they take useless engines and run them with no oil and the throttle wide open until they grenade. I don't want our government paying people to do that.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 12:10 PM on July 31, 2009


I'm not gettin' all the anger here.
I'm not sure what the fuss is.


Stimulation of an ailing industry as they try (hopefully) to relearn what customers really need is a good goal, I understand that. And the overall intent of fewer old, wasteful, dangerous cars on the road is also a virtuous one.

But that particular automobile was a state-of-the-art American design, an excellent combination of luxury, safety, performance and economy, probably still achieving it's rated 24mpg on the highway despite a few required minor repairs.

To a particular mindset, the willful destruction of functional, serviceable machinery to satisfy a bureaucratic requirement... or even the very concept of built-in obsolescence (re: the pile of relatively new broken DVD and CD players at the thrift store)... cuts through one's gut like a glowing spike.
posted by CynicalKnight at 12:15 PM on July 31, 2009


Not great, not bad, just meh, the whole program. Hopefully this achieves some measurable reduction of CO2 emission from the national car fleet.
posted by peppito at 12:15 PM on July 31, 2009


I felt like I just watched a death by lethal injection.

For those who don't get it, it may be educational to read about the "broken window fallacy." This government program is destroying wealth, and making us all poorer. In fact, all economic reasoning based on "stimulating the economy" is a variation on the broken window fallacy.
posted by where u at dawg at 12:19 PM on July 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


So if people are driving would we rather have them drive inefficient cars or efficient ones?

That's not really the point, as the environmental effects are negligible (and may even be in the negative given costs to make those new vehicles). The big point (to me anyway) is the $1 billion they spent IN A WEEK and the $2 billion they added today. Expect another request for money on August 14th. All to prop up the auto industry.

On preview what CynicalKnight said.
posted by Big_B at 12:21 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know what, I resent the "Americans Drive too much"

Americans may not have to drive so much if they had either

1) A serviceable and convenient mass transit system

I lived in a "Hippy" town (eugene, oregon) that had a mass transit system that was just awful, 30 minute wait between busses if you weren't going downtown, routes that dead ended out rather than circling back into the station... crazy stuff. I had to get a car just to go from place to place in any kind of reasonable time frame, it took hours to get the same distance I could walk in 45 minutes to an hour. Carrying groceries those distances though...

2) Towns you can walk from place to place in.

In Virginia I couldn't walk anywhere, there were no sidewalks or pedestrian walkways near my hotel... driving around the US I hit this alot, places where I could drive from place to place, but walking meant either walking in the dirt or on the road.

Nice.


The problem I found in both places was simple greed, because the populace was given the chance to vote on government spending, they would vote down anything that might involve taxes, period.

"People" should not be allowed to vote on their taxes, they will simply vote against the greater good every time.

I don't have an intelligent solution save that people get the government that they vote for, how's that working out California?
posted by NiteMayr at 12:22 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's not how you destroy an engine. This is how you destroy an engine.
posted by The World Famous at 12:26 PM on July 31, 2009


Death to cars! Bring back the railroad barons!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:27 PM on July 31, 2009


That squeak at the very end is the sound of pure mechanical sadness.
posted by quin at 12:33 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


they shoot horses don't they...
posted by geos at 12:45 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


2) Towns you can walk from place to place in.

I honestly have never been in a town in the United States that didn't have sidewalks. With ADA, I'd be surprised if a town would be able to get away without them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:56 PM on July 31, 2009


I'm with quin - I understand the point of it, but that rev-up and seizure was just wince-inducing.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:58 PM on July 31, 2009


From Ask Pablo:

The energy required to manufacture the vehicles is:

* Hummer H2: 200.717 mmBTU (million BTU)
* Toyota Prius: 113.322 mmBTU
* Toyota Highlander: 107.133 mmBTU
* Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 155.18 mmBTU

Gasoline contains 113,500 BTU (0.1134 mmBTU) per gallon. By dividing the expected lifespan of a vehicle (160,000) by its average MPG we can determine the gallons of gasoline used over that lifetime. We can also multiply this by the energy content of the fuel to get the total energy used. The gallons used during a 160,000 mile lifespan and the energy contained therein is:

* Hummer H2: 13,913 gallons ($44,800 at today’s prices!), 1579.13 mmBTU
* Toyota Prius: 2,883 gallons, 327.207 mmBTU
* Toyota Highlander: 6,400, 726.4 mmBTU
* Toyota Highlander Hybrid: 5,424, 615.593 mmBTU

So, in comparison, 89% of the energy consumed by a Hummer H2 is in burning fuel, whereas the Toyota Prius uses 74% of total energy on burning fuel. This means that, in relation to weight, the Prius requires more energy to manufacture, but the Hummer uses far more energy to operate. What we also learn is that a Hummer H2 uses more energy in the first 24,000 miles than the Prius will in its entire lifetime.
posted by electroboy at 1:05 PM on July 31, 2009 [17 favorites]


The program will help poor people who have clunkers to get decent used cars, I hope. Do they have to buy new cars? When I first saw cash for clunkers at a dealership, I wondered what the catch was. The catch is that we are paying for it. Let's not give people an incentive to go into debt.
posted by kindalike at 1:06 PM on July 31, 2009


So filling a landfill with a perfectly serviceable car, plus the added environmental impact of building a hybrid, all to save a few MPG equals "environmentalism"?

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
posted by LakesideOrion at 1:06 PM on July 31, 2009


To address the cost of manufacture argument.

All these new cars already exist, they're sitting on lots rusting away waiting for the economy to turn around. The program is more helping the car companies reduce their inventory on hand than make more cars to sell.

I think this video got people so riled up because it appears that a perfectly good car was being destroyed. But it wasn't a perfectly good car, the exhaust system was gone, all the warning lights were on on the dash so it had major electrical issues, and who knows what kind of shape the interior was in, and all that smoke when they first start it up was what that car was doing all the time when it was running before. This was not a perfectly good old car, it was a pile that could still move itself.

Also, the majority of vehicles being turned in are old pickups that people are replacing with cars. So the average MPG gain is probably rather significant.
posted by TheJoven at 1:07 PM on July 31, 2009 [7 favorites]


I wonder how many of the people being tricked into buying a new car through this program won't be able to afford them when their mortgage resets again next month and they get laid off.

I might have missed something. Who is being tricked into buying a new car? Is there some widespread deception going on that I don't know about, beyond the normal hassles of new car buying?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:15 PM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


That is such a boring way to kill an engine. This is how you kill an engine, and the whole clunker. (hint thermite)
posted by caddis at 1:16 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Answering my own question: cash for clunkers goes only toward purchase or lease of a new car. We are creating another problem: more consumer debt.
posted by kindalike at 1:17 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


That is such a boring way to kill an engine. This is how you kill an engine , and the whole clunker. (hint thermite)

I think they should have Jeremy Clarkson personally do powerslides in each and every clunker until they are all destroyed.
posted by The World Famous at 1:17 PM on July 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


2) Towns you can walk from place to place in.

I honestly have never been in a town in the United States that didn't have sidewalks. With ADA, I'd be surprised if a town would be able to get away without them.


I've been in quite a few. Palestine, TX was the last one.
posted by qwejibo at 1:21 PM on July 31, 2009


We are creating another problem: more consumer debt.

With the state that banks are in, it's unlikely they will be so free with lending as they were pre-crash. Those who have secured loans for buying a new car through this program are probably more likely to be in a position to pay them back, all else the same.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on July 31, 2009


All your logic is great, but here's my take:

I drive an old car. Made during the first Clinton administration. it has 260,000 miles on it. I didn't buy it new, but I've put a good portion of those miles on it. Despite being an inanimate object, that car is my friend. When I bought that car, my life was pretty much a mess. Now it's not. And the car stood by me through every milestone and got me everywhere I've asked it to. If the "cash for clunkers" thing seemed remotely attractive to me initially, it wouldn't now. No one is doing THAT to my friend as long as he can still run under his own power.

Sentimentality's a stupid thing, huh?
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:25 PM on July 31, 2009


kindalike: "Answering my own question: cash for clunkers goes only toward purchase or lease of a new car. We are creating another problem: more consumer debt."

Obama's hand, grasping a gun, pointing at you; screaming "Sign the financing papers or you get it!"
posted by boo_radley at 1:25 PM on July 31, 2009


Palestine, TX was the last one.

I did a quick Google search and there is an image of a house in Palestine, TX with a sidewalk in front of it. I suppose it's possible that this is the only property in Palestine, TX with a piece of proper sidewalk on it, but I have my doubts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:27 PM on July 31, 2009


Obama's hand, grasping a gun, pointing at you; screaming "Sign the financing papers or you get it!"

This is what the Birthers and NRA warned us about!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:28 PM on July 31, 2009


I honestly have never been in a town in the United States that didn't have sidewalks.

A lot of smaller towns don't have sidewalks, but that's not what makes them unwalkable. If the residential areas are unmixed with any commercial zones, and it's a one-hour walk to get a few groceries, that's pretty unwalkable, even if it is physically possible. Nobody wants to spend that kind of time to get a dozen eggs.
posted by echo target at 1:30 PM on July 31, 2009


I did a quick Google search and there is an image of a house in Palestine, TX with a sidewalk in front of it. I suppose it's possible that this is the only property in Palestine, TX with a piece of proper sidewalk on it, but I have my doubts.

Don't fool yourself. The mainstream media want you to think that everything is just fine in Palestine, TX, and that Palestinians are granted the same rights as all other Texans. But the fact is, a sidewalk in Palestine, TX is not the same thing as a sidewalk somewhere else in Texas. A Palestinian cannot ever feel safe walking the streets. Do you even know how many guns there are in that state?!?
posted by The World Famous at 1:30 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I will throw rocks through your inefficient windows to make work for glaziers.

The glaziers already made the new windows, and those new windows are more energy efficient, which means we have to throw fewer rocks at people in Iraq and Afghanistan to further subsidize and secure cheap glass.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:31 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of smaller towns don't have sidewalks, but that's not what makes them unwalkable. If the residential areas are unmixed with any commercial zones, and it's a one-hour walk to get a few groceries, that's pretty unwalkable, even if it is physically possible. Nobody wants to spend that kind of time to get a dozen eggs.

One can always ride a bicycle, petition the town council to rezone the neighborhood, provide tax or other incentives to grocers, or build concessions for pedestrian traffic -- or just do what people did before the invention of paved roads and walk anyway.

Of course, nobody wants to do any of this when people can easily pop into an air-conditioned car and drive a few blocks with subsidized gasoline priced as cheaply as it is, but there are reasonable alternatives for the non-lazy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 PM on July 31, 2009


What we also learn is that a Hummer H2 uses more energy in the first 24,000 miles than the Prius will in its entire lifetime.

Both vehicles however emit equal amounts of entitlement per mile.


Also, couldn't they at least jump the clunkers first? Or better yet, stage the largest demolition derby ever. Think about it: Demolition Derby brought to you by President Obama and your democratically controlled congress. You could swing the South with a campaign like that.
posted by clearly at 1:36 PM on July 31, 2009 [9 favorites]


This video makes me want to hug my Focus.
posted by hellojed at 1:47 PM on July 31, 2009


elwoodwiles:
Cash for clunkers is a voluntary program. No one is forcing anyone to buy a new car.
"

Correct, but they are eliminating i.e. destroying the supply of cheap cars so that they are otherwise unavailable for purchase. Where do you believe cheap cars come from?
posted by vapidave at 1:56 PM on July 31, 2009


vapidave:

Well, as others have already pointed out, there are many cheap cars not eligible for this program. They just happen to be too fuel efficient. This program isn't going to destroy the supply of cheap cars, but only the supply of cheap, inefficient cars, which is arguably a good thing.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:06 PM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Based on the above numbers:

Given a maybe larger than average sized vehicle like the Toyota Highlander, it takes the equivalent of 107.113MBTU/0.1134MBTU = 945 gallons of gas to manufacture.

So, for the 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora, given the average annual mileage of 15,000 miles and assuming 75% highway miles at 22mpg and 25% at 15 mpg (instead of the EPA 45%/55% split), you would use 740 gallons of gas per year. At the EPA estimate, you'd use 826.

For a car that meets the CARS criteria, which is 22 mpg, let's use the 2009 Accord V6, which gets 19 mpg city and 28 highway, for a combined mpg of exactly 22. For the same average year and given the same mix of driving, the Accord would use 582 gallons of gas. At the EPA estimate, you'd use 681.

So, given the difference of 158 gallons per year, the period to pay off the manufacturing energy debt is about 6 years, or around 90,000 miles. Using the EPA estimates, it's a difference of 145 gallons, or 6.5 years (97500 miles). Either way, you break even significantly before the end of the lifespan of the car.

I suppose I could tell you exactly where the break even point is, but it's late and the algebra part of my brain has switched off. There's some other ins and outs like manufacturing being largely point source pollution that can be more easily regulated, but just going by the numbers in the most minimally successful case, the cash for clunkers succeeds in getting low performing cars off the road.

In addition, everything besides the drivetrain on the tradein can be parted out, making cheap parts available for those who want to continue driving them.
posted by electroboy at 2:15 PM on July 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


I would totally pay a dollar to do that to a car if they let me donut it to death after putting in the Death Fluid.

I would pay $2 if they had David Hobbs there to say "Blammo!" when it went.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:21 PM on July 31, 2009


My hope is that this program will cause a few rich people to get rid of their gigantic SUVs rather than giving them to their teenage children.
posted by box at 2:24 PM on July 31, 2009


The drivetrain's the point. Those Northstar engines are beautiful - awesome power curve, reliable, and potent for their size. A ton of kit-car enthusiasts would have loved to buy that engine, to refurb or for parts. Ooops. What a waste.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:25 PM on July 31, 2009


So, without posting the calcs, given the same 180k mile lifespan and same energy cost for manufacturing, the total energy consumption of the Olds is 1307 MBtu and the Accord is 1034MBtu, or about 2400 gallons of gas.
posted by electroboy at 2:27 PM on July 31, 2009


I think you are going a bit off the point, Blazecock. Walkable does not mean you can follow the sidewalk from one residential home to another, or that given a few hours you could make it to the grocery store, or that a bike might get you there faster.
posted by Nothing at 2:31 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


A ton of kit-car enthusiasts would have loved to buy that engine

Sort of misses the point of the program, chief.
posted by electroboy at 2:36 PM on July 31, 2009


Blue Book value of the car in the video is $925.
posted by smackfu at 2:43 PM on July 31, 2009


(Actually, that's the trade-in. For some bizarre reason, the "private party sale" price is $4k.)
posted by smackfu at 2:44 PM on July 31, 2009


elwoodwiles: "vapidave:

Well, as others have already pointed out, there are many cheap cars not eligible for this program. They just happen to be too fuel efficient. This program isn't going to destroy the supply of cheap cars, but only the supply of cheap, inefficient cars, which is arguably a good thing.
"

At the maximum award of $4,500 the program, when it is through spending the allocated $4,000,000,000 will have destroyed over 888,000 cheap fairly useful* cars. I am entirely in favor of fuel efficiency but enacting a law that will negatively impact poor peoples ability to purchase cheap cars, or middle-class peoples ability to get out from under an expensive car note during the middle of the worst economic crisis in the last 80 years seems counter-intuitive to me.

*Trade-in vehicles must be registered and insured continuously for the full year preceding the trade-in.
posted by vapidave at 2:51 PM on July 31, 2009


Sort of misses the point of the program, chief.

Yeah because a car that only runs on occasional sunny summer weekends is depleting our fossil fuel resources at exactly the same rate as a daily commuter, chief.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:56 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Two chiefs in one thread! What are the odds?

I'm putting this day in my journal for sure.
posted by The World Famous at 2:58 PM on July 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


In a couple of months when I pick up my dry cleaning, I will admire the shiny new hangers and get down on my knees and thank Obama and congress for spending $3 billion (renewed another $2 billion today) for providing a source of scrap metal.
posted by Frank Grimes at 3:05 PM on July 31, 2009


I see no compelling reason to open a giant loophole in a wildly successful program so some douche can build a Ferarri replica in his garage. Fuck the kit car enthusiasts.
posted by electroboy at 3:06 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am entirely in favor of fuel efficiency but enacting a law that will negatively impact poor peoples ability to purchase cheap cars,

Or people who can marginally afford it could trade up to a nicer new car, leaving more cheap used cars on the lots (that they would have been buying otherwise) for those who can't afford it. Especially as, since you pointed out, one can't buy a clunker from Al's Used Car Emporium and double it's value (as scrap) at Jimbo's Mercedes & BMW. I dunno, I don't see this pinching the poor any more than they usually are, it's much more of a wash. My wife and I are sort of considering taking advantage of it to trade in her daughter's trashed Mitsubishi for something more reliable, something we never would have considered at list prices.

Me, I wonder what it'll do to the scrap value for steel and aluminum, having a glut of new stock hitting the market.
posted by Kyol at 3:06 PM on July 31, 2009


I see no compelling reason to open a giant loophole in a wildly successful program so some douche can build a Ferarri replica in his garage. Fuck the kit car enthusiasts.

He is already building it. He needs an engine. This program just burned out a perfectly servicable one.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Destroying the engine doesn't count as "reduce."
posted by The World Famous at 3:08 PM on July 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fuck the kit car enthusiasts.

Looking at it more moderately: the kit car enthusiast is welcome to part out an engine from someone who (a) has a potential clunker with that engine and (b) isn't planning to take advantage of the program.

The small fraction of the auto-buying and -selling population who are kit car enthusiasts will probably get by just fine with their hobbyist projects, with or without this bill. They neither need to get fucked nor need to be protected, here.
posted by cortex at 3:21 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


He is already building it. He needs an engine. This program just burned out a perfectly servicable one.

Your point being? Are you suggesting we're nearing peak Northstar engines? Should I start hoarding?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Destroying the engine doesn't count as "reduce."

But it'll certainly get recycled. Nice chunk of cast aluminum like that should fetch about $300 in scrap.
posted by electroboy at 3:23 PM on July 31, 2009


Your point being? Are you suggesting we're nearing peak Northstar engines? Should I start hoarding?

I already am. And when the engine apocarlypse comes, I'll be sitting on my giant pile of V8s with a cigar, a shotgun, and a big smile on my face. You'll be sorry, pal.
posted by The World Famous at 3:26 PM on July 31, 2009


Pfft. V8s will do nothing to stop the zombie hordes of kitcar enthusiasts.
posted by electroboy at 3:28 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am entirely in favor of fuel efficiency but enacting a law that will negatively impact poor peoples ability to purchase cheap cars,

I don't agree with this assertion and would like to see hard data on how this has had a negative impact on the supply of used automobiles, significant enough so that people looking for used cars can no longer afford them. Are there published projections or predictions that show cause-and-effect along these lines?

I have some objections to the CARS program, mostly to do with subsidizing foreign car companies (specifically established hybrid makers like Toyota and Honda) while trying to bail out GM, as well as continuing to prop up the country's car-based infrastructure at the expense of (re-)building mass transit and pursuing more ecologically and public-health friendly options like walking and cycling, and I'd like to see other rational arguments against.

Most of the objections I've seen in this thread so far have are on a very shaky, data-free basis. Do we have a data-based refutation of the CARS program, of what it is meant to accomplish with respect to providing economic aid to the automobile industry and its workforce, reducing dependency on foreign oil and improving our environment?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:36 PM on July 31, 2009


I drive a gas-guzzler, all rusted out and creaky, with a beat-up interior, that would get me the full "Cash for Clunkers" deal -- if I could afford a new car. Where are these people getting the money for new cars that they didn't have before? When a car costs $16,000 on the lot, that's still a $12,000 car they need to finance, well out of the reach of people like me that can't take on an additional $200/month, when I have a running clunker that gets me from place to place without a monthly payment. The number of cars replaced by Cash for Clunkers won't nearly offset the environmental effect of 18-wheelers, Diesel-electric locomotives, cargo ships, heck, even all the lawnmowers in a town. It's a little bit of money to spur on the economy - the dealer gets their cut, the auto manufacturers move some inventory, the banks get interest, scrap dealers get parts, it puts money into motion in a specific way -- but putting the burden of at least 1/2 - 2/3 of the money on the person driving the clunker who thinks they're getting a good deal or helping the environment somehow.
posted by AzraelBrown at 3:54 PM on July 31, 2009


The way this program should work: allow you to take the cash for a new car program OR swap even-steven for a vehicle someone else ditched for a $100 document fee -- no warranty provided. If you get a lemon as your trade, just trade it again. That way they wind up shredding the crappy cars no one wants, but the old cars with some life left in them continue to circulate.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:23 PM on July 31, 2009


The burden of 1/2 - 2/3 of the total cost of a new car is a much better deal than the entire cost, IMO.
I think a lot of people simply hang onto cars that aren't worth any money, but are still useful to them. They can afford to get a new car, but there isn't any incentive to do so. This program just creates the incentive for those particular people.
posted by orme at 4:24 PM on July 31, 2009


Kyol: Or people who can marginally afford it could trade up to a nicer new car...

The notion of People generally, and especially people of little means to begin with, improving their material lot during an economic crisis is odd.



Blazecock Pileon: I don't agree with this assertion and would like to see hard data on how this has had a negative impact...

So would I. In the absence of data while the experiment is in progress though I am going to rely on my belief in the Law of Supply and Demand, universally negative reports on the economy, and common sense.
I am not arguing about whether or not the CARS program is overall a good idea. What I am arguing is that in the short-term it is the people that are solidly in the middle class that will be the main beneficiaries with lower and lower-middle class peoples ability to purchase cheap working vehicles being compromised in the bargain.
posted by vapidave at 4:27 PM on July 31, 2009


enacting a law that will negatively impact poor peoples ability to purchase cheap cars,

Oh no! What are the poor to do?

Why is the ability to own multi-ton single occupancy internal combustion engine vehicles on the cheap something we care about? This isn't food or shelter.

Many people that can afford to drive probably should try to find ways to stop or cut back. People that can't afford to drive.. shouldn't. This whole attitude of public transportation being some second class mode of transport that even our poor shouldn't be subject to really sucks.

Disclosure: My city, Portland, OR, has pretty decent transportation for a city of its size. My opinion may or may not be the same if I lived someplace else.
posted by floam at 4:47 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


This whole attitude of public transportation being some second class mode of transport that even our poor shouldn't be subject to really sucks.

I am a huge car guy, and I agree 100% with this sentiment.
posted by The World Famous at 4:49 PM on July 31, 2009


This program is just an auto industry stimulus disguised as an eco-friendly initiative.

So? Why is stimulus bad? We have this huge stimulus plan and frankly the cash for clunkers part is one of the best parts - it helps an industry in dire need, it helps an industry now essentially owned by the government, and most importantly it is quick (getting spending soon is one of the hardest parts of stimulus and failure to be quick is one of the biggest criticisms of the conservatives). This is a brilliant program.
posted by caddis at 4:55 PM on July 31, 2009


Why is the ability to own multi-ton single occupancy internal combustion engine vehicles on the cheap something we care about? This isn't food or shelter.

I'm not sold on the CARS-will-fuck-the-poor theory either way (and am interested in further analysis too), but depending on where you live, what your personal mobility is like, what your family situation is, what your employment and housing options are, etc, a car can be a hell of a lot more a necessity than a luxury.

Insofar as not just sort wanting a car but functionally needing one is the state of being for a lot of people (especially people with fewer options about how to deal with the pragmatic constraints of life—and that's something that common sense suggests correlates fairly directly to class), it's a concern I can really, really understand.

That said, public transportation as an option to embrace wherever it is viable is something I can get behind completely, and to whatever extent there is merit to the complaint that CARS is directly taking up funding that otherwise would be going to expanding public transpo projects, I'll get behind that as well. I don't know whether and to what extent that funding relationship exists in this case, though. I'd be interested in details.

Disclosure: My city, Portland, OR, has pretty decent transportation for a city of its size. My opinion may or may not be the same if I lived someplace else.

Yeah, honestly, Portland is an appallingly easy city to live in without a car. Childlessness also makes it a lot easier. I'd like to think more places will become like Portland in the long run, but the fact is that most places aren't there yet.
posted by cortex at 5:00 PM on July 31, 2009


The energy required to manufacture the vehicles is:

How is this calculated? How far down the chain does it go? Does it include extraction of raw materials?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:08 PM on July 31, 2009


Cortex, you're absolutely right. People in cities with good transportation systems totally forget (or don't know) what it is like elsewhere.

In smaller cities and towns, you are totally fucked without a car. Let me repeat that YOU ARE TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY WITHOUT ANY RESERVATION OR QUALIFICATION FUCKED IN A SMALL CITY OR TOWN WITHOUT A CAR.

These are places without bus or taxi transportation, where even riding bicycle can mean you need to be Lance Armstrong to go to the nearest shopping complex by Schwinn.

That said, I have a feeling that most of these trade-ins are not from the rural folks, and we have to view this as an economic stim package with at least some kicker for the environment.

As far as public transit, keep in mind that the few billion dollars in this auto program doesn't go very far. A single light rail line in Minneapolis cost between $500 million and $1 billion (depending on where you get your numbers). In addition, light rail lines take many years to plan and build, pretty much destroying the stimulating effect on the economy.

Now, putting this same money into hybrid buses or general public transportation subsidization might have served the goal...but remember that we're currently trying to keep the auto industry from imploding, so the political willpower here was all about cars.
posted by Muddler at 5:20 PM on July 31, 2009


crazy, utterly non-american idea: how about a $4,500/year tax credit to not have a car?
posted by hollisimo at 5:34 PM on July 31, 2009


crazy, utterly non-american idea: how about a $4,500/year tax credit to not have a car?

We are already taxed for owning a car. The government likes your idea!
posted by The World Famous at 5:42 PM on July 31, 2009


Floam, I know you're a good dude and I've liked things you've said in the past, so I'm going to try really hard to react in a cool and concise matter to what you've just said.

I live in Appalachia. Specifically, I live in a town where 10 miles separates the "haves" from the "have nots". Within a stones throw of each other, literally, are houses with acres of property worth less than $20,000 and homes selling for $450,000. The distribution of wealth is staggering.

Not surprisingly, this manifests itself in everything from education (2 schools, 10 miles apart. One spends $20,000 a year on shrubs, the other HAS MOLD SPORES IN ITS VENTILATION SYSTEM.) to labor and access to public systems like transportation, parks, and recreation.

So there's this dichotomy here, and it says "HEY YOU poor people, get off your asses and WORK!" "Work for $7.15 an hour!" And see, nobody wants to pay the minimum tier over 32 hours a week or they have to get paid benefits. So they make their 25 hours a week at $7.15 an hour, minus 25% for taxes, and they bring home a whopping $130-150 a week. Times 4. So maybe $600 a month after taxes.

OR they can sit back and collect unemployment/welfare/SSI/whatever and make $636 for doing nothing. So you're net negative for trying.

So you say, RIDE THE BUS YOU POOR BASTARD! Awesome. So this person who is living on this amazing salary, even if they have 2 of them and make $1200 a month, is forced to live OUTSIDE the city simply to find a place they can afford. The bus runs every 2 hours, drops you off at a central station, and every transfer costs $.75. On average, you need 3 transfers each way to get anywhere. OR you can buy a pass for $40 a month, assuming you have that kind of cash up front. The buses only serve main trunks, so you might have to go 1-5 miles just to find yourself on a route.

So you've gotta be at work at 2, but the bus runs at 12, 1:30, and 3. Awesome. So you meet the bus at 12, transfer around, get to work by 1:15. You're off your kickass 6 hour shift at 8, last bus runs at 8:15, so you run like a bitch to get to the stop and hope the second or third bus hasn't left by the time you get there.

So now we have this perfectly clean, perfectly sober, minimum wage earner who may or may not be stuck. They may or may not be disabled. They certainly can't afford to take the damn taxi every day.

God forbid they have a child and have to pay childcare, there's $500-1000 a month down the drain just so they can go to work. (Oh I hear it now, why are you having babies if you can't afford it! The gall of these poor folks!)

Lots of times, these people are trying to take care of aged parents, siblings, or the children of siblings and parents. Doctors appointments, etc. God FORBID they should have a car! The dastardliness of wanting to try to squeak ahead a little bit or have a minor luxury in life! Many folks I know share 1, ancient, decrepit, car amongst several family members until it breaks, at which point they trade for another $500 car, and surprisingly these dumb mountain folks tend to keep 'em on the road for quite a while. Ancient escorts, AMC Eagles, f-150's, and Subaru's from the late 80's are as prevalent here as new cars, depending on where you go about town.

My point is skewed, but my goal here is that "POOR PEOPLE SHOULD RIDE BUSES AND BICYCLES" isn't uhm...exactly relevent.

It's a played out argument, but you take people in a cycle, and force them deeper into the cycle, and you put your jackboot on their head and just let their nose stick out of water and you wonder why they just can't seem to get on their feet.

Stupid poor people.
posted by TomMelee at 5:48 PM on July 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


This whole attitude of public transportation being some second class mode of transport that even our poor shouldn't be subject to really sucks.

But it tends to get operated that way. Why would I wait a half hour for a bus that may or may not show up on time just so I can cram myself into one of its filthy seats so it can take another half hour to travel a distance that would take 10 minutes by car? And then, on the way home, after working myself utterly exhausted, I can wait another half-hour or more for the same filthy bus to take too long to get me home and not give me the opportunity to run any errands or pick up dinner along the way?

The people riding public transit aren't "second class" people in any way at all. But public transit in America isn't worth the hassle. Back in Philly, the disgusting subway had two lines. North/South and East/West. And the busses were never there when I needed one and were extremely vulnerable to traffic congestion. I can't tell you how many times I would wait 45 minutes for a bus only to have three #57 busses show up at once, one or two of which would be empty.
And down here in Charleston, I think I see maybe one or two busses a day. They're old, smokey, clattery, and kind of pathetic. I looked into the bus schedule here because one route would pick me up from home and drop me off at work. I figured that I'd have to get up an hour early just to catch it and then wait an equally considerable amount of time after working a 10 hour day to take it home. Fuck that, man. I took my cash and bought a clunker.

As far as I'm concerned, being liberated from mediocre public transportation is totally worth the expense of car ownership. I bought my first car ENTIRELY to end my reliance on the bus. Hell, the only reason I learned to drive in the first place was to free myself from the clutches of crappy public transportation. Riding the bus sucks! I've never met anyone who's bought a car and then said, "Man, I miss taking the bus everywhere."
Don't get me wrong, though. If public transportation were cleaner, more reliable, and faster, I'd take it everywhere. The DC and Tokyo subways are amazing and I loved their convenience, cost, speed, and cleanliness. If I lived in a city that had that kind of light rail, I certainly wouldn't have a second car, and might not even own a first.

I agree that blowing up cars as part of the CASH program is kind of a waste. But, to be honest, as soon as my dealer starts accepting clunkers, I'm going to be first in line to blow one up. A machine is a stunningly beautiful thing when it's working correctly, but it's gut-busting hilarious in it's tragedy when it's broken.
posted by Jon-o at 5:57 PM on July 31, 2009


Yeah, I'd rather not hear those who are not poor tell the poor they should ride the bus. Poor people need cars too.
posted by kindalike at 6:00 PM on July 31, 2009


floam: "Oh no! What are the poor to do?

Why is the ability to own multi-ton single occupancy internal combustion engine vehicles on the cheap something we care about? This isn't food or shelter.

Many people that can afford to drive probably should try to find ways to stop or cut back. People that can't afford to drive.. shouldn't. This whole attitude of public transportation being some second class mode of transport that even our poor shouldn't be subject to really sucks.

Disclosure: My city, Portland, OR, has pretty decent transportation for a city of its size. My opinion may or may not be the same if I lived someplace else.
"

Here you go, from someone who apparently has some experience in the matter, and from UCB at that:
"Big cities were able to fend off the automobile simply because there wasn't provision made for parking, so transit had a convenience advantage in the largest cities, but nowhere else," says David W. Jones, a retired historian of transportation policy and management at UC-Berkeley and the author of "Mass Motorization + Mass Transit: An American History and Policy Analysis." He adds: "The present tendency is to view transit as something good for low-income people." Or, as the Onion once humorously put it: "Study: 98 Percent of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation for Others."
"To get back to anything significant is going to be a very long haul," says Jones. The fact remains that fully half of Americans have no access to public transit, according to the American Public Transit Association."

Disclosure: My old city, San Francisco where I lived and never owned a car for 12 years has a public transportation system that makes yours (where my family is from) look like Detroit in the sixties.
posted by vapidave at 6:10 PM on July 31, 2009


For those worried about the dwindling supply of used cars, remember that the cars purchased under this program become used as soon as they roll out of the dealership. Just wait ten years for your 120,00-mile 2010 model.
posted by rigby51 at 7:05 PM on July 31, 2009


Dur. 120,000 mile.
posted by rigby51 at 7:06 PM on July 31, 2009


Floam, I know you're a good dude and I've liked things you've said in the past, so …

Uh oh, you just know there's nothing you're going to much enjoy following a reply starting off like that.

<lots of disagreeing with me, and making it obvious I suck>

Basically, you're 100% right. Except for the couple few places in the US where public transportation and city layout works out, you either need a car or really really need a car.

I should have (well, in truth I mostly had) realized that my comment was nearly worthless after I even typed up my little "disclosure". But at that point I'd already typed out a few paragraphs, you know? Killing that off hurts me the same way watching this video does.

I still stand by my comments about attitudes towards public transportation. I think we could quite easily have great transportation in most of our cities of over a couple million folks if we cared. And I still think that in my idealized version of the US we shouldn't worry about car availability to people like me who can barely afford them.

Further disclaimer: I do own a car, even in Portland, and justify my hypocrisy because I avoid using it when I can and it'd be a pain in the ass to do my job (involves being on-call nearly 24/7) without one.
posted by floam at 7:19 PM on July 31, 2009


Naw, I know what you meant. I wish like hell this town had a valid public transport system. West Virginia schools rank in the top 10 annually in per-student spending yet in the bottom 10 for student performance. Interesting, until you realize that almost 40 cents of every dollar spent on education in this state goes to transportation.

Mountains + rural + low tax base = fail transportation.
posted by TomMelee at 7:23 PM on July 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


The way this program should work: allow you to take the cash for a new car program OR swap even-steven for a vehicle someone else ditched for a $100 document fee -- no warranty provided. If you get a lemon as your trade, just trade it again. That way they wind up shredding the crappy cars no one wants, but the old cars with some life left in them continue to circulate.

That would be like a white elephant gift exchange. Kinda wacky and fun for a party, but not sure it would work in this case to achieve the ends they want from the program, which is to get inefficient vehicles off the road and to stimulate the economy at the same time.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:42 PM on July 31, 2009


You know what honestly surprises me about the program? That there isn't anywhere in it any requirement that any percentage of the car be manufactured in the US.

I can see not saying it has to be "american", but even, say, Toyota and Honda have big US plants. Hyundai and Kia, not so much---and those are the manufacturers selling $5,000 new cars with the CARS program right now.
posted by TomMelee at 8:11 PM on July 31, 2009


Protectionist stuff tends to get into issues with the WTO nowadays.
posted by smackfu at 8:24 PM on July 31, 2009


Amount of payout $3500.00 or $4500.00 average $4000.00

Total of first round of program $1,000,000,000.00.

250,000 cars junked / sold
posted by pianomover at 8:32 PM on July 31, 2009


Prius Vs. Hummer, another perspective
This from The Recorder Online:
The nickel produced by this disastrous plant in Canada is shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe. From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce nickel foam. From there, it goes to Japan. Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery. Are these not sounding less and less like environmentally sound cars and more like a farce?

Wait, I haven't even got to the best part yet.

When you pool together all the combined energy it takes to drive and build a Toyota Prius, the flagship car of energy fanatics, it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a Hummer - the Prius's arch nemesis.

Through a study by CNW Marketing called Dust to Dust, the total combined energy is taken from all the electrical, fuel, transportation, materials (metal, plastic, etc) and hundreds of other factors over the expected lifetime of a vehicle. The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.

The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it.

So, if you are really an environmentalist - ditch the Prius. Instead, buy one of the most economical cars available - a Toyota Scion xB. The Scion only costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to put on the road. If you are still obsessed over gas mileage - buy a Chevy Aveo and fix that lead foot.

One last fun fact for you: it takes five years to offset the premium price of a Prius. Meaning, you have to wait 60 months to save any money over a non-hybrid car because of lower gas expenses. Read the full article here
posted by HappyHippo at 10:04 PM on July 31, 2009


Fuck the kit car enthusiasts.

Why, do they wear fedoras? Are they building fixed-gear cars?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:55 PM on July 31, 2009


HappyHippo: Hummer versus Prius:
“Dust to Dust” Report Misleads the Media and Public with Bad Science
posted by bystander at 12:05 AM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've always thought of driving a prius as being a subsidy for electric vehicle technologies. Which is a good thing.

Of course, I drive an F-150, so what do I know.
posted by flaterik at 12:26 AM on August 1, 2009


The initial outline of the CARS program included a $4000 credit for public transportation/car share, which apparently was removed. Definitely a shame, because there are clearly people that want to get rid of their cars and could use an incentive like that to do it.

The interesting thing about the $3500-4500 credit, is that for most cars you're covering the 1st and part of the 2nd year depreciation. So, you're not looking at a huge loss if you purchase a car through the program, then decide to sell. Combined with some of the return program like Hyundai is doing, there's significantly less risk than usual for people who aren't as secure in their financing.
posted by electroboy at 8:58 AM on August 1, 2009


We had a very interesting seminar at work last year which was about the development of the city of Curitiba in Brazil. Faced with huge population growth and relatively poor access to automobiles, they had to develop a functioning transit system ASAP. Admittedly, they had help from a dictatorial government in the 1960's that imposed severe rules on the city and the state...

But Curitiba's public transportation system (in English, in spite of the page title) is impressive, given the financial and social climate under which it was built.

Just to point out that as the North American auto sector becomes a smaller part of our economy, we're going to need a strategy to actually make public transit work for a bigger chunk of the population.

Sorry, this is a bit of a tangent.
posted by sneebler at 9:09 AM on August 1, 2009


TomMelee: "Stupid poor people."

No, not stupid, merely lazy. See, all they have to do is petition the town council, whose real estate agents, real estate developers, Prosperity-Gospel loons and other miscellaneous birdbrains whom Allah has seen fit to relieve of the burden of earning a goddamn living will instantly connect with the hardships of their down-and-out neighbors.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:24 AM on August 1, 2009


Instead, buy one of the most economical cars available - a Toyota Scion xB. The Scion only costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to put on the road.

Done. I replaced my minivan with an xB over 2 years ago, and have improved my gas mileage by a bit over 50%. I wish public transportation were a real option where I live. My county has public transportation, sort of. The nearest bus route is over 10 miles away, making it useless for me unless I want to walk the half mile from my office to the bus stop and then go to the mall or into the city (via multiple transfers).

People here walk, but they do so on secondary roads for exercise and to visit neighbors, not to run errands or conduct business, because the business districts are surrounded by 4-6 lane busy, high-speed roadways that are hazardous to cross if you are fit and unburdened, much less if you have children, groceries, or physical challenges to slow you down. No one wants to be the frog in real-life Frogger.
posted by notashroom at 10:05 AM on August 1, 2009


Dealers warned off Cash for Clunkers: Auto dealers' association advises members to play it safe and avoid Cash for Clunkers deals this weekend.
posted by homunculus at 1:30 PM on August 1, 2009


Ending is better than mending, people.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:39 AM on August 2, 2009


Just to point out that as the North American auto sector becomes a smaller part of our economy, we're going to need a strategy to actually make public transit work for a bigger chunk of the population.

I don't understand what you mean by this. When some or all of the three major American auto companies go out of business or shrink substantially, that is not going to mean that people cannot find or afford cars anymore. It just means they will be less likely to be buying American ones. The demise of the British automotive industry did not reduce the number of cars on the road in Britain.
posted by The World Famous at 1:34 AM on August 2, 2009


'95 Olds Aurora? Car as antichrist. Worst reliability rating and most problematic vehicle of ANY GM product built in that era. Hated by it's owners almost as much as the Pontiac Aztec even though many have wanted to love it. A car with great lines that seduced many unsuspecting buyers then proceeded to drive its owners insane with bugaboos and glitches. Still made me feel icky to watch. I love cars and it was an undignifed and sadistic death. More than one Aurora owner secretly enjoyed this video.
posted by Muirwylde at 8:22 PM on August 2, 2009


McCain Is A Clunker, Can I Trade Him In?
posted by homunculus at 2:49 PM on August 3, 2009


New Fox Conspiracy: Cash for Clunkers Will Allow Gov’t To Seize ‘All Of Your Personal and Private Information’
posted by homunculus at 10:25 PM on August 4, 2009


Yes, because the Bush Administration never, ever tried to seize everyone's personal and private information. Ever.
posted by The World Famous at 10:44 PM on August 4, 2009


The Ten Most Traded-In Vehicles (From Jalopnik)
1. Ford Explorer 4WD
2. Ford F-150 2WD
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD
4. Jeep Cherokee 4WD
5. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan 2WD
6. Chevrolet Blazer 4WD
7. Ford Explorer 2WD
8. Ford F-150 Pickup 4WD
9. Chevrolet C1500 Pickup 2WD
10. Ford Windstar FWD Van
posted by smackfu at 5:55 AM on August 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a lesson in that list:

American SUVs last pretty much forever as usable, drivable vehicles, but they rust out, look horrible, have lots of problems that don't totally kill them, and depreciate in value so much that, when an offer for $4000 to get rid of them comes along, that's like gold.

The flip side is that cars like Hondas, Toyotas, etc. may or may not last longer than the American SUVs, but they get better gas mileage and they keep their value better, so that $4000 for one doesn't seem like such a hot offer.
posted by The World Famous at 11:51 AM on August 5, 2009


Also, with the fuel economy differential requirements of Cash for Clunkers, you pretty much have to trade in a big, dumb SUV and then buy an econobox to actually participate in the program.

I sold our old 1999 Accord a few weeks ago for well under the Cash for Clunkers amount, and it would not have been eligible because of its original EPA MPG rating - even though it had been years since it stopped getting good gas mileage.
posted by The World Famous at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2009


Man, I miss my Accord. I had 220,000 miles on it when some asshole in an Explorer pulled out in front of me.
posted by electroboy at 12:43 PM on August 5, 2009


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