Canada Cash for Clunkers: CA$300

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Three-hundred dollars Canadian is not a lot of money for a car that functions. But it buys you—well, the Canadian government—a lot of greenwashing. OK, some. “Retire Your Ride” pays the three bills for any currently registered Canadian car produced before 1996, “the year the government introduced more stringent emissions standards.” Canadian Driver dutifully reports, “These pre-1996 models produce about 19 times more air pollutants than newer cars and trucks.” Wow! Nineteen times! The Clean Air Foundation is in charge of sending any one of five million-ish eligible cars to the crusher, in exchange for CA$300 or discounts on public transit passes, bicycles or memberships in car sharing companies. As my father said to me on many memorable (if imminently lamentable) occasions, “How much is this boondoggle going to cost me?” This one, me, nothing. Canadian taxpayers, CA$92m. Canadian Driver saves the withering analysis for the end of their article, but it’s worth the wait…

Automotive analyst, Dennis Desrosiers, believes the plan is “a waste of time and energy and taxpayer money” and will fail because the amount being offered is too low. “Explain to me why a consumer with an asset worth at least a couple thousand dollars if not a lot more would turn it in for $300 bucks?” Desrosiers said. He pointed out that similar vehicle scrappage programs in Germany are offering over $4,000 for cars that are over nine years old.

Don’t you love it when government intervention doesn’t go far enough? No? Party pooper.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • CarPerson CarPerson on Feb 02, 2009

    If the government is of a mind that civilization can only continue in its present form if older cars are removed from the roads, some tools are available. Spinning something around fuel economy will go nowhere. CAFE is a POS that did little to actually increase mileage. Ten year-old vehicles with one size smaller engine often equal or beat the new iron. Don’t bother trying to sell fuel economy. Let a barrel-head tax do that. That leaves safety. Pick a year 3-5 years ago where a nice improvement in safety regulations occurred. Offer tax incentives for trading in a vehicle 12 years old or older on the purchase of one of these. That limits sales to dealerships, but that’s the plan. Call it a Citizens Safety Initiative. The truth is, the safety improvements are significant enough to get thinking people out of their older cars. The rollover standard is a total joke and will be until dynamic testing is required, but most other things are a measurable improvement. Here is how to properly test roof strength:

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Feb 02, 2009
    made to fail programs like 15% off on insulation products for your house, and other “Gee, I can’t wait to take that offer up!” bullshit.... BS? Really! I cut my home's energy use in half by insulation and a variety of other "bullshit" and would have loved to have the government give me a 15% discount. Of course, with such a program you have to look out for the opportunistic "capitalist" scum who jacks up his price by 15%... Regarding clunker bills...they really don't make any sense. Decent cars are always worth more than the paltry offer. If emission reduction is really the goal, maintain a stringent I/M program. Ironically, with new cars going for such discounts, used car values are sure to plummet. It will not make economic sense to plow $1500 into a 12 year old car for a new transmission. I suspect that the boneyards will begin to fill with cars that are pretty intact.
  • Geo. Levecque Geo. Levecque on Feb 03, 2009

    The Tory dream of getting rid of older vehicles for $300.00 Can is just a dream for them, in effort to get rid of pollution they should concentrate on all those fumes coming from 2 cycle Snow Blowers and Lawn Mowers as they pollute more than my 1988 GMC Van does, I dont use my Van in the winter months, but do use it in warmer times and yes we have lots of Snow here, 6ft of Snow is common, as well as -15C temperatures, I still use a Block heater on my Toyota product too.

  • Chnaane Chnaane on Feb 06, 2009

    Canadian new-vehicle emission certification standards have been identical to U.S. standards since the 1985 model year. That's why non-U.S. cars like carbureted Volvo 240s disappeared from Canadian dealer showrooms abruptly after 1984. I don't believe there is any factual basis for the "nineteen times cleaner" claim. CarPerson: Your assertion "the safety improvements are significant enough to get thinking people out of their older cars" appears to be based on your guess that there was "a year 3-5 years ago where a nice improvement in safety regulations occurred". In fact, there wasn't. For considerably longer than your 3-5 year figure, North American vehicle safety regulations have not changed so as to substantially improve vehicle safety. If we were talking about European ECE regulations, you might have a solid case, but not in North America. Psarhjinian: Your remarks about emission testing being a crock, V8s being held to standards they never could have met, et cetera, show that you have a poor understanding of the differences between local and global emissions issues, and between new-vehicle emission certification tests and vehicle-in-use emission tests.