Got a clunker of a car you want to replace with a new one? There is a new law meant to address greenhouse emissions and energy security. The program incentivizes Americans to buy new fuel efficient vehicles to replace inefficient ones. Increasing the average fleet fuel economy in the U.S.A. stands to save consumers money, reduce greenhouse emissions from vehicles in the U.S.A., improve energy security and reduce oil dependence costs, and increase energy sustaintainability. The Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program was recently signed into law and is to be administered by the NTHSA.
The program provides for a $3,500 or $4,500 credit on purchases of a new car, van, SUV or pickup truck. Interestingly it does not provide credits for purchase of even higher efficiency vehicles (that don’t have four wheels) like motorcycles, scooters or bicycles. Since the incentive is for replacing 4-wheelers with 4-wheelers there is a lost opportunity to make a fundamental change in the mix of vehicles on the road.
To qualify for the program the traded-in vehicle must be less than 25 years old, have less than 18 miles/gallon efficiency, have been owned by you for over a year, and the old vehicle must be crushed or shredded. This does ensure complete removal of an inefficient car from the road, and it would be silly if the traded-in vehicle were resold and remained in use. However it also removes any future use of the sunk energy cost of that vehicle. It’s possible the sunk energy cost of the new vehicle is greater than the sunk energy cost of the one it’s replacing.
By picking at the details one can construct with arbitrary scenarios to make the program look bad. The most egregious is that while the program is clearly meant to increase overall fuel efficiency, some inefficient vehicles (18mpg) qualify as replacement vehicles (see the recommendations compiled by Consumer Reports linked below). While it creates an opportunity to improve general fuel efficiency of the American vehicle fleet, a more concrete route for improving fuel efficiency would be to raise the CAFE standards. Perhaps the real purpose isn’t, as some of the articles out there suggest, is to cause sales of cars?
While the law has been signed the program does not go into effect until around July 23, 2009. To take advantage of the program means working with a participating dealer. The CARS.GOV website does not yet have the list of dealers nor other precise details on participating. It’s recommended to wait until the details are known before proceeding.
- Cash for clunkers: The best gas guzzlers to junk
- Cash for clunkers: Recommended cars that qualify for a voucher
- Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS)
- Side by side fuel economy comparison (fueleconomy.gov)
- 2009 Fuel Economy Guide
- Would cash-for-clunkers be good or bad for the environment?
- The 2012 Oil Crunch vs. Cash for Clunkers
- Scott Pruitt resigns as EPA Administrator, proving someone can be too corrupt for Trump - July 5, 2018
- Tesla Model 3 and Zero SR drivers beat REFUEL lap time records in 10th annual REFUEL race - July 4, 2018
- Tesla’s new risk from Trump Administration trade war with China and other countries - June 27, 2018
- Volkswagen I.D. R smashes overall record at Pikes Peak International Hill Climb - June 24, 2018
- Tesla closing a dozen or more former Solar City installation centers in layoffs - June 22, 2018
- Uber test driver in self-driving car in fatality accident was streaming Hulu - June 22, 2018
- Misplaced trust in driver assist (Tesla Autopilot) systems can cause huge problems - June 19, 2018
- Tesla layoffs seen by The Market as a big non-issue - June 19, 2018
- Uber self-driving car fatality: Everyone is to blame - May 26, 2018
- Dept of Energy aims for high speed EV charging network in new Grant program - May 14, 2018