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
- Bucharest gets 230mm Euros funding to purchase electric buses and streetcars - May 25, 2019
- Electrify America aims to simplify electric car charging - May 15, 2019
- Telling your neighbors about your electric car helps them over the hump - May 12, 2019
- Illinois EV tax echos question of road funding when gas taxes shrink - May 10, 2019
- Biden/Ukraine story getting more heat and suspiciousness - May 2, 2019
- Explosion at APS energy storage unit injures firefighters, casts doubt on energy storage - April 23, 2019
- No, Tesla is not phasing out the J1772 adapter - April 17, 2019
- Near destruction of the Notre Dame contains lesson in thinking ahead - April 16, 2019
- Nepotism bites VP Joe Biden as he starts 2020 Presidential run - April 13, 2019
- Tesla almost kills $35k Model 3, launches lease program, still shows misleading pricing - April 13, 2019