Congress Calls for Clunker-Culling

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
congress calls for clunker culling

“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.

Join the conversation
2 of 34 comments
  • on Jan 18, 2009

    davey49, Are we really to the point where a car without ABS or side airbags is a clunker? I get the emissions requirements to a point; I would try to cull cars that can't pass emissions tests appropriate for their age. That and plain old attrition will clear out the older, dirtier cars. The rest is silly.

  • Davey49 Davey49 on Jan 18, 2009

    Attrition isn't good enough, people keep their crappy running cars too long. With the safety regs I figured I'd save the people in the car as well as the people outside

  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......
  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!
  • Ribbedroof Have one in the shop for minor front collision repairs right now,I've seen more of these in the comments than in the 30 years I've been in collision repair.