“Cash for Clunker” policies have been enacted in a number of developed countries as a conveniently “green” way to stimulate new car sales. The idea is sold as a greenhouse gas-reducing measure which provides tax credits for removing older, less-efficient models from the road. Of course the point isn’t to get people out of cars or permanently reduce the number of GHG-emitting vehicles: to claim credits, you typically have to buy a new car. Texas already has its own take on the debt for more debt swap. And now the Congress– well the auto industry anyway– wants a piece of the action. Hence the Accelerated Retirement of Inefficient Vehicles Retirement Act of 2009.
According to Green Car Congress, in order to claim the full $4,500 tax credit, participants would have to scrap a vehicle that was rated at 18mpg (CAFE ratings, somewhat lower than EPA) or under and built in or after 2002. They must also replace it with a new vehicle.
You can get $3k towards a used car or mass transit expenses for vehicles of that age, but the point is clearly to stimulate sales of new vehicles. Older vehicles get smaller credits, ranging from $3k for a new vehicle replacement for a ride built between 1999-2001 ($2k for a used or mass transit purchase) to $2k for replacing a 1998 or older model with a new car ($1,500 for usedor mass transit).
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates that this plan would attract half a million to a million takers, and would save 40k to 80k barrels per day of motor fuel by the end of the fourth year, while reducing C02 and N0x emissions.
Unless of course you subscribe to the crazy notion that the greenest car is the one that has already been built, and factor in the embedded carbon and energy of new cars. But then again, the greenwashed facade was only intended as thin cover for an auto-dealer bailout anyway.