Canadian Feds to Spend $90m on Clunker Recycling

Samir Syed
by Samir Syed
canadian feds to spend 90m on clunker recycling reports that John Baird, Canada's firebrand Minister of the Environment, has green-lighted a $90 million vehicle scrappage program. In essence, the objective of the program is to encourage Canadians to trade in their high-emission beaters in favor of credits on a new car. CTV notes that "[t]hese older vehicles make up just a fraction of the estimated 18 million vehicles in Canada, but they account for up to two-thirds of the pollution that causes smog." There is a current mish-mash of recycling programs in Canada, but the new legislation aims at creating a national, uniform program for beaters nationwide. Though one can't argue with the aesthetic merits of getting some of the ancient, rusted-out Pontiac Parisiennes off Canadian roads, one has to wonder about how enticing any recycling credits would really be. All of those clunkers, being fully depreciated and cheap to insure, have very low cost of ownership, which usually (and easily) offsets any extra fuel costs. Unfortunately, specifics of the plan have not been announced by the Federal government, which makes any assessment of its effectiveness difficult, at best.

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  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Apr 03, 2008

    This idea is just plain wrong. If the government really wanted to reduce emissions, they would offer emissions equipment for these vehicle owners so that they could continue on with minimal levels of pollution. Dedicating the monies that come from emissions towards that would be an extremely intelligent way to handle both pollution and consumption. Approximately 30% to 40% of the energy used in a vehicle's lifetime comes before the key is first put in the ignition. You also have to take into account that the average vehicle today is just about as inefficient in terms of gas consumption as those that were made 30 years ago (Car & Driver's Patrick Bedard highlighted this a couple years ago) and substantially less fuel efficient than those even 20 years ago. An old Dodge Shadow is not really hurting anything or anyone. The Parisienne mentioned in the article may be a more valid case. But then again Canada can always punish the owner of that car through gas taxes and registration costs. Even that's a little heavy handed, but it's far better than painting with the proverbial broad stroke and say that old cars are undesirable. In fact a lot of small and efficient old cars are far better in terms of pollution and consumption than virtually any new car when you factor in the production cycle. Sorry, but this program is definitely not an intelligent answer to the pollution question.

  • BigOldChryslers BigOldChryslers on Apr 03, 2008

    @Steven Lang: Most of the cars that are being targetted by this program already have emissions equipment (catalytic converters, EGR valve, etc) that was adequate at the time of their manufacture. The cost to retrofit a 15 year old car with up-to-date emissions equipment would be very cost-prohibitive. The Canadian government is bribing people with their own tax dollars to support the floundering auto sector. Unless you were already considering buying another car, the inscentive won't be enough to convince you to scrap your old one. In Ontario at least, there is already emissions testing on cars every two years for cars 1988 and newer. If the gov't wanted to put this money to more effective use, they would close the loophole that allows people to keep driving their cars when they've failed the emissions test (called a "conditional pass") but subsidize the cost of repairs to make such cars REALLY pass.

  • Steve_K Steve_K on Apr 03, 2008

    I hope the US never tries any of these bull-headed railroading techniques. Older cars are simpler than new, and simple machines are almost always better. I find it ironic these particular Pontiac's are in the crosshairs, because that's a cousin to the Chevy Caprice which I wouldn't mind at all. With the police package and a fresh 383 small block, of course.

  • Dave Dave on Apr 03, 2008

    Oh course what is actually going to happen is those driving real beaters will continue to do so. Those who were going to buy a new car anyway will just happen to buy some off the road anyway junker and own it long enough to collect the credit. Thus crushing an old junker that wasn't really on the road anyway. Tax dollars well spent. I say this as a Canadian junker driver. Driving a beater is so cost effective I'm not tempted.