Germany's Clunker Culling Cash: A Subsidy For Organized Crime?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
germany s clunker culling cash a subsidy for organized crime

For most in the German auto business, the Cash-for-Clunkers scheme (€2.5K if you scrap your old and buy a new one) is the savior that rescues Deutschland from eternal CO2-related damnation. Not to mention the fact that dealers are reporting long lines in showrooms. The hottest topic: the money to fund the Abwrackprämie (“wrecking award”) will be gone soon. Germany’s elected representatives only allocated €1.5b for the program—enough for 600K cars or one fifth or Germany’s yearly run rate. If that money gets exhausted anytime soon, turning water into wine will be relegated to cheap stunt status. The media ignores this eventuality, and beats the public into a frenzy. Act fast! Im Windhundverfahren (“greyhound method” a.k.a. first-come-first-serve principle)!

The Windhund Award goes to the German dealer rag Das Autohaus which brazenly reports that the money may not last into March. The Hamburger Abendblatt reports that more than 300K forms have been downloaded so far. Turning to the back of the paper, next to the obits, it is revealed that only 2000 completed applications were received by the Bundesamt für Wirtschaft und Ausfuhrkontrolle (BAFA) the agency that administering the greendoggle. For the rest, the subsidy is, in fact, a bail-out initiative for organized crime.

Old hands remember when the Altautoverordnung (old car directive) came into effect. Manufacturers were forced to take their old cars back and pay to have them shredded (in an ecologically-friendly way, of course). A car that previously had brought a few hundred Euros cost the manufacturer a few hundred Euros for the wrecking yard’s trouble. More often than not, the money was collected, but the cars were not crushed. They were sold to Central Europe or Africa.

Now imagine what happens when €2.5K is at stake.

The Abwrackprämie is only a week old. There’s already a huge black market for bogus car culling. Monitor, the German version of “60 Minutes,” ran a segment where a TV team succeeded in selling a supposedly shredded car to Poland. Then they sold it to a Lebanese trader who exported it to Africa. As a final accomplishment, they registered the supposedly culled car again . . . in Berlin, right around the corner from where the law was passed. Nobody was checking in a country that usually checks everything.

[Ed: Vehicle safety wasn’t mentioned. But then, why would it be?]

The program cited Jürgen Resch, head of the environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe, who said: “We assume that hundreds of thousands of cars and hundreds of millions of Euros will end up in the hands of organized crime.” As always, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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  • Ihatetrees Ihatetrees on Feb 03, 2009
    no_slushbox: There is no future in high wage simple assembly jobs. ... +1. I've seen the simpler manufacturing jobs slowly crowded out by fewer higher end maintenance jobs and better machines. Hell, the inability of even higher paid workers to sit still, concentrate and inspect/measure consistently is moving their jobs from the production floor to robotic digital cameras and wikkid visual measuring software. I've wondered how far out the cashier / RFID chip tipping point is - retail cashier positions at large supermarkets and dept stores are replaced by an RFID chip on each item in the store. There's the shrinkage and shoplifting issue. But that'll do nothing more than concentrate such RFID stores in effectively policed suburbs.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Feb 05, 2009

    So what will the uneducated class do in the future? Not a comment on those people's potential - just a comment on the fact that they chose a career where they bolted stuff together. By the way I recommend taking the "Monitor" segment and running it through Babelfish or some other free translation service. Interesting segment. One customer was recycling a 62,000 km VW Lupo (Fox). That's a 40K mile vehicle that they were crushing. HOW does it help the environment to crush mostly new vehicles? I understand the 400K mile vehicles somewhat but there is manufacturing pollution to consider. New cars aren't grown on tomato plants from mulched soil. They generate waste just being built. I'm keeping my two daily drivers alive as long as possible and economical. 10 and 12 yrs old, nearing 200K miles.

  • FreedMike I don't know why this dash shocks anyone - the whole "touchscreen uber alles" thing is pure Tesla.
  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.