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Feds To Offer Cash For Your Clunker

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the distressed-assets dept.

Transportation 740

coondoggie sends along a NetworkWorld piece that begins, "The government... wants to motivate you to get rid of your clunker of a car for the good of the country (and the moribund car industry). A 'Cash for Clunkers' measure introduced this week by three US Senators, two Democrats and a Republican, would set up a national voucher program to encourage drivers to voluntarily trade in their older, less fuel-efficient car, truck, or SUV for a car that gets better gas mileage. Should the bill pass, the program would pay out a credit of $2,500 to $4,500 for drivers who turn in fuel-inefficient vehicles to be scrapped and purchase a more fuel-efficient vehicle."

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Won't Help Big Three (5, Insightful)

Ssherby (1429933) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504081)

I don't see this helping the Big Three very much. Foreign makes have better fuel efficiency and more variety to choose from.

Re:Won't Help Big Three (5, Insightful)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504091)

Not only will it not help them but it won't help car owners. People who have a 10-20 year old car usually do so because they don't have the money for a new one. Giving them less than $5k for it (probably not worth more than that anyway) is not going to be incentive enough for most I would think to help them get a car to replace the one they are giving up.

Re:Won't Help Big Three (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504285)

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Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504335)

Re:Won't Help Big Three (5, Insightful)

Tyrion Moath (817397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504287)

Maybe the person with the junker will buy a used car that costs them about how much they're being reimbursed by the government for, and then the person who just sold their car will buy a slightly newer used car, then that person will buy a new car? In the end a new car is bought, it just might take a couple sales to get to it.

GP is right though. Foreign is where it's at right now.

Re:Won't Help Big Three (3, Informative)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504415)

That's not very good economics, though.

Say A buys a used, more fuel efficient car from B, B buys a used, more fuel efficient car from C, C buys a used, more fuel efficient car from D, and D buys a new, more fuel efficient car.

All the old cars are exactly as fuel efficient as they always were, one new fuel efficient car was bought at the cost of 4 vouchers for a total of $10,000-$18,000, and one old car is either being scrapped, or more likely is put on the market for someone else to drive.

Re:Won't Help Big Three (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504523)

It says you have to scrap it. So no, it's not going back on the market. That would defeat the entire point...

Re:Won't Help Big Three (3, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504539)

It *is* good economics. Maybe it does not lend an astonishing improvement in fleet efficiency but it does spark car sales.

Another way to describe what you have is 4 people trade in their clunker and buy increasingly expensive replacement vehicles. One guy buys a car with the same price as the value of the voucher, another adds in some from their savings, the third takes out an auto loan equal to value of voucher, and the forth uses the voucher as a down payment for a 3-5 year Auto loan. That is a lot of money changing hands.

What would improve fleet efficiency if all this happened with fuel being over $3.00 per gallon. So paying for the program with a national fuel tax would dramatically strengthen the effects... 1: it would encourage participation 2: it would make vehicle efficiency a more important factor in future purchases 3: It would allow for a larger program (more clunkers off the road).

Re:Won't Help Big Three (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504597)

It will be just enough to motivate people to take on the debt of a new car and just enough to motivate banks to lend money to people...that won't pay it off...hey, isn't that what started this mess?

As a human being, as an individual, I make mistakes. I try to cover up those mistakes or mitigate their damage. This works well for small mistakes. However, with big mistakes, I find that my efforts to cover them up or fix them usually makes matters worse. There comes a time when a person...and now, I believe, a country...must accept the fact that they've really screwed up, endure the consequences, and learn the hard lessons. The wisdom gained by such events is not always profitable to those that have aquired it. Our responsibility is to those that follow us to pass that wisdom along.

Re:Won't Help Big Three (2, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504297)

amen to that. I'd like to have seen the question come up in Congress while the execs were there of "Because of your decisions to make SUVs despite gas prices, your company would have failed even if the economy was perfect. Why should we bail you out?" That would have been quite entertaining.
As for my car, it's a 2000 Mercury Cougar V6 but somehow it gets 28 on the highway (they say that but it really gets 30-31 at 70 MPH) so I don't think it'd qualify. Sad that Ford could make an automatic V6 with that good of gas mileage 9 years ago and just decided to make worse cars.

Re:Won't Help Big Three (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504649)

Sad that Ford could make an automatic V6 with that good of gas mileage 9 years ago and just decided to make worse cars.

GM is just as bad.

My first brand new car was a Pontiac Sunfire that I bought in 2004. It gets 32-36 mpg, it's rugged enough that I've been the only passenger car at a few trailheads up in the mountains, and it hasn't needed any repairs in almost 5 years. To top it off it accelerates quickly and, IMO, handles really well. All for about $11k. So what did Pontiac do? They stopped producing it.

Then they had the nerve to send out an email asking for support of their government bailout. Killed any chance I'll ever buy another GM.

chevy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504325)

Chevy has more models on dealers lots now that get better than 30 mpg than any other seller in the US. Simple data, look it up. That's more than toyota and honda for example.

With that said, we had a lot better mileage with early 80s cars by and large, at least the choices, then what we have now. All the cars got bloated with 18 channel sensurround heated massaging dvd players and such like total metrosexual nonsense. They cost more, don't really work any better as transportation, are only *marginally* safer and only *marginally* cleaner for double the money and quadruple the insurance. You want a solid car, look for an early 80s model car, plenty out there that did better than 30, and 40+ mpg was common as well, all the way to a few that cracked 50 all the time, vw rabbit, honda crx, etc. Then fix what needs fixing as soon as you buy it, and you'll come in a lot cheaper than a new car and any problems will have long been figured out. If you need a solid full sized pickup that can actually do work and get fair mileage and last for hundreds of thousands of miles without constant repairs, look for a 90s dodge wth the cummins diesel. After 2000 they went to suckage, before then, top notch.

Re:chevy (1)

f0dder (570496) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504485)

Those cars that did get high mpg did so without the encumbrance of modern regulation. Mainly a 4 banger, manual transmission and a very light shell. The reason they didn't sell was one many people don't like 5 speed. The engines were gutless averaging roughly 70 hp. The ride was harsh, the interior noisy. Driving in windy condition and rain you might as well turn on the blinkers cuz sometimes your car just wants to be in the other lane. All that said they made for very fun cars if you're like me and love working the gears. Many people unfortunately do not. They love automatic. They love the torque of 6 cyl. They don't want to hear the engine work.

Old Stereotypes (3, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504449)

Foreign makes have better fuel efficiency and more variety to choose from.

Not really. Japanese companies are putting more emphasis on hybrids (and have better developed hybrid-tech), and so they get a lot of press in that regard, with some models topping 50mpg in fuel economy. But most cars sold are still conventional gasoline models, and in that regard, Japanese and American models are broadly similar in terms of fuel economy. Compare for instance, two competitors in the sedan market, a 2009 V-6 Toyota Camry, and a 2009 V-6 Ford Taurus. The Camry gets 19/28 mpg, and the Taurus gets 18/28.

As for the "more variety"... where? The beauty of Japanese car company philosophy is that they offer few models. Instead of offering vehicles for every possible niche, the Japanese companies have a few, well-designed and well-built models. Part of the problem that American companies have(and especially GM) is that they'll sell 3 to 5 versions of the same car, sometimes with little difference in the sheet metal. American car companies take "platforming"... using a base car platform to make multiple models... to ridiculous extremes.

Re:Old Stereotypes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504599)

I'm glad you've nailed down the word "foreign" too only mean Japan.

Re:Won't Help Big Three (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504525)

I don't see this helping the Big Three very much. Foreign makes have better fuel efficiency and more variety to choose from.

And why should we help them? They REFUSE to bring in efficient cars, choosing, instead, to market them in the UK. Give American consumers what they demand or PERISH. And I'm no coward. I don't want to register. This site can bite me. Sign me.. Texas Slim

It Will Help The Big Three (3, Insightful)

isBandGeek() (1369017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504097)

Regardless, encouraging sale of old vehicles to scrapyard means that people will buy new cars. A portion of this will go to the domestic manufacturers, who at this point are not as worried about selling more cars than their foreign competitors, but rather just selling more cars.

Re:It Will Help The Big Three (5, Insightful)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504273)

This proposal would not help the Big Three, because it won't encourage sales of new cars. People are not going to trade in a $200 clunker in exchange for $2,000 of a $20,000 debt on something that depreciates if they can even get a loan in this environment.

This proposal will help used car dealers at the expense of pretty much everyone. The demand for used cars will skyrocket as people try to trade in their $200 clunkers for $1,500 used cars. Of course in that $1,500 won't buy them what it would buy them now.

There _may_ be environmental benefits as people dump less fuel efficient cars for already existing more fuel efficient cars, but it's certainly not obvious that is going to be the case.

Unless you are a used car salesman, the only real benefit here is reducing our demand for foreign energy. But the amount of oil this is supposed to save after 4 years is only 40,000 to 80,000 barrels per day. That's not even a drop in the bucket. It's not even a drop in the bucket of how much our demand will have increased during the same time period!

Re:It Will Help The Big Three (1)

herske (1312105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504473)

Based on practical experience of these policies in other countries, I can safely say that: 1 - people will like it and it will successful. Buying a new car for less money? Perhaps with some other dealer discount? Will be good enough for many people. 2 - taking junk cars off the roads is a good idea.

Crap (1, Funny)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504103)

I knew I should have held on to that rusted out 95 Grand Am a little longer.

Only got a couple hundred for it, and $100 of it was a new battery and a full tank.

Busses (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504109)

They need to sub out the city buses instead, those things are a pollution nightmare

What environmental cost to build a new car? (4, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504125)

Frankly, I think the 'ism supported here is consumerism, not environmentalism. Let old cars die their natural death.

Re:What environmental cost to build a new car? (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504253)

This is an economic bill, with the "fuel inefficient" part added in to make it a bit less damaging. I agree completely though about the true motivation.

Re:What environmental cost to build a new car? (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504257)

But, many old cars have been on their "last legs" for years, and the owners just can't afford anything better. Those old cars are seldom properly maintenanced, spewing pollution, and wasting gas everywhere they go. It's not a bad idea, after all, to help Joe Sixpack and his little family. Much better than giving Bank of America another few billions to pass on to failed executives as "bonuses".

Re:What environmental cost to build a new car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504453)

I have always managed to have a well-maintained and fuel efficient vehicle. I grew up at least as poor as Joe Sixpack.

That wasted gas is costing Joe Sixpack more than it would cost him to do maintenance on the vehicle and replace it when necessary. No, he's choosing to continue driving that poorly maintained vehicle because he'd rather buy that six pack and look after more immediate concerns (like that wasted gas) than look six months into the future and make a better choice. Simply put, it's not my responsibility to pay for the poor choices he's continuing to make and will continue to make even after I "help" him by buying him a car with my taxes.

Re:What environmental cost to build a new car? (5, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504289)

Here in BC, they have a ScrapIt program, where you 'sell' your car to a scrapyard, and in exchange you get either a big discount on a bike, bus passes for a number of months, or a relatively small amount of cash. So it encourages switching/using a alternate form of transportation.

Of course, when I put my car into ScrapIt, I resold the bus passes and bought another car...

Re:What environmental cost to build a new car? (5, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504667)

"Let old cars die their natural death."

What's wrong with a yearly mandatory test? Fail the test either fix it and get a certificate of compliance or your heap of junk will be taken off the road, as is the case in parts of Europe.

Would improve road safety too.

My old car is fine (4, Interesting)

DarkNinja75 (990459) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504141)

My '93 Corolla gets 34mpg. Not too many cars made today get better than that.

Re:My old car is fine (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504357)

Not too many cars made today get better than that.

My thoughts exactly! I have a 97 Neon (Laugh all you want) modified air intake, Mopar PCM, meticulous maintenance. 42 MPG highway/32 city. I think the mods paid for themselves years ago. I like driving for 400+ miles on a single 10 gallon tank.

Re:My old car is fine (4, Insightful)

inzy (1095415) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504417)

no it isn't fine - 34mpg blows

you yanks are convinced that 30mpg is some sort of decent figure for fuel economy - go buy a japanese super-mini (quit whining about it being a girl's car) and revel in the 40mpg+ efficiency []

Re:My old car is fine (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504471)

You sir, sound like a douche.

Re:My old car is fine (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504483)

The only thing I can think of more terrifying than the idea of driving a super-mini on Californian highways and roads is the idea of letting my wife drive a super-mini on Californian highways and roads.

Re:My old car is fine (1)

DarkNinja75 (990459) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504495)

Addendum: Not too many cars today that are readily available in the US get better than 34mpg.

Re:My old car is fine (1)

Grave (8234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504515)

Most of those cars from yesteryear that got such great MPG did so while weighing half of what todays cars do. They wouldn't even come close to meeting our current safety standards.

Re:My old car is fine (1)

Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504507)

No kidding. I really can't stand this mindset. I think it comes from the barrage of advertising. There is a constant stream of car commercials where they talk about how great the fuel economy is and then give the mileage as something horrid like 28 or 30mpg. Really?

And it's not just domestic cars either. This seems to come from all makers. I suppose that people see it enough on TV and listen to it on the radio that eventually they come to think that this is normal.

But there are many cars that do so much better that are neither hybrids nor concept cars. I'm not sure what it will take for people to start rejecting these mileage numbers.

Re:My old car is fine (1)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504587)

Problem is, cars like that don't have the durability needed to deal with driving 15,000 miles a year, which is pretty typical for most American drivers. We have 50 times the land area of the Japanese, so the engineering challenges are a bit different than for the Japanese super-mini market. Living in Japan, I can tell you that those cars are typically designed for trips to the grocery store and commuting distances that are a third if not less than what the average American drives to work every day.

Re:My old car is fine (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504573)

My 85 Toyota Tercel got 27mpg; it's hard to find non-hybrids today that even beat that. The PT Cruiser is basically a Neon with a taller body, and it's annoying that mine only gets 20-22mpg (local/highway.)

My old Chevy van has no trouble getting 400 miles per tank, but that's because it has a 33 gallon tank (:-) - it used to get 500 miles when it was newer. If I did serious commuting I'd need a better-mileage car, but since I don't it's been ok, and it's nice to be able to carry anything I want or take it camping and have better visibility when I am driving.

Re:My old car is fine (4, Insightful)

Big Bob the Finder (714285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504459)

My 1995 Saturn SL1 gets 40 MPG (overall- probably 43-44 on the highway) in the winter (less in the summer when I need to run the a/c, of course). That's a full-size sedan that seats 5, and can fit almost two bodies in the trunk.

The first engine and clutch (on a manual- my first manual transmission) lasted 231,400 miles, and the first time it stranded me for anything other than a dead battery was at that point. Drop in a used engine, and it's back on the road- getting 40 MPG while meeting the county's stringent air quality laws by nearly half.

What the heck, Detroit? What did you do to our cars? (I know- gave them decent acceleration and class, but- dangit, I like my Saturn. Even if everybody else laughs at me, it's saved me a lot of money and hassles over the years.)

Re:My old car is fine (5, Funny)

Kangburra (911213) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504577)

and can fit almost two bodies in the trunk.

Hans Reiser, is that you?

Re:My old car is fine (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504641)

There are a lot of very efficient old cars (the Jetta is one that comes up time and again) - making cars go a long way on a small amount of petrol isn't any kind of mystery.

The problem is that the minimum level of acceptible luxury and safety in a car has gone up a long way since your Corolla was made. It may have a drivers' side airbag but that'll be about it, compared to a modern car of the same size which will have a passenger safety cell with multiple airbags, twice the airconditioning capacity, power everything leading to more strain on the engine. Add to that the fact that we demand better acceleration these days and you get a car that needs much more energy to move a given distance no matter how efficient the engine.

Opposed (3, Insightful)

shiftless (410350) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504147)

I am totally opposed to this bill. As a hot rodder the last thing I or my fellows want is for everyone to turn their old cars in for scrap. It is better for them to remain in junkyards where they can be used as spare parts to keep other old cars in good running condition. Really guys, there are not THAT many older cars on the road compared to newer ones, so the older cars really aren't contributing a whole lot to emissions. If all these cars are scrapped then the result in millions of car enthusiasts will have a tough time restoring their older cars, all the scrap steel will go to China, and you and I will have to foot the bill for it all through taxes.

Re:Opposed (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504341)

All I see such a bill doing is create a short-term bump in car sales on the backs of taxpayers. Following that bump might be a slump, since it will only draw in the people who were going to go for a new car the next 2 or so years anyway.

I would much rather have the Fed just mandate higher mpg or give a 10k credit for buying an Aptera (hybrid version) to get that jumpstarted, so people can get over themselves and the slightly quirky look of the thing and just drive something that is really economical - not just something that's 5% better in mpg: []

Improve the economy... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504153)

By making it less and less efficient! Yay for progress!

The environmental cost? (2, Informative)

TheEvilOverlord (684773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504163)

I'm no eco weenie, but this is total madness... the manufacture of a car creates SIX TIMES the CO2 that the average car will emit in its lifetime... the government should be encouraging people to keep their cars for longer, not pointlessly bail out a few failed car makers...

Only care about CO2? (0, Offtopic)

bazald (886779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504205)

Who told you that CO2 is the only emission that we should be concerned with? Personally, I've never caught a whiff of CO2 and thought to myself "Ack. My lungs!" Honestly, there are worse emissions, albeit possibly in smaller quantities. I'm certainly no expert on the matter.

Re:Only care about CO2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504385)

I agree with you, but...
You've never really whiffed CO2, have you? Its like suffocating in distilled form. "Oh god, my lungs!" is the first thought that crosses the mind.

Re:The environmental cost? (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504217)

Or save the money from the bill and offer it to anybody who wants to buy a domestically assembled hybrid.

Why go through some obscure bizarre song and dance to infuse money into domestic industry when you could just directly pay people to buy domestic vehicles that are fuel efficient!

"Here is a check. Pleeeeeeeeaaaaase buy a fuel efficient vehicle made in the US!"

Re:The environmental cost? (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504221)

Well at least it will help fight against the global cooling trend we're in.

[citation needed] (0, Offtopic)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504245)

[citation needed]

One sixth, not six times (5, Informative)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504267)

The average is in the range of 10-15%, which is about one sixth the lifetime emissions of the vehicle. Perhaps you got your numbers mixed up.

Here's a good Google Answers article with lots of references:

Not environmental costs, think cost of lost lives (2, Interesting)

bagsc (254194) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504277)

The real cost is that many old vehicles aren't safe to drive. Steering, brakes, crash test ratings, restraints, airbags, etc are all much better today than they were 10, 15, 20 years ago. In addition to fatal accidents, there are many accidents with hospitalizations or permanent injuries, or even just property damage to other vehicles.

We're talking about on the order of $300 billion a year in economic losses from auto crashes. I don't know what percentage of that is due to old vehicles that would be traded in, but if 1% of it is, that's enough to justify taking a million of these vehicles off the road.

Re:Not environmental costs, think cost of lost liv (1)

inzy (1095415) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504427)

perversely to what you would think, less-safe cars encourage safer driving, so REDUCING crashes

when drivers are concerned about what will happen if they crash, they tend to drive more slowly, leave a bigger gap in front, and generally behave themselves. similar trends happen when drivers don't wear seatbelts, etc.

look up any risk research by John Adams for more information

Re:Not environmental costs, think cost of lost liv (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504461)

Except driving a less safe car doesn't stop the asshole whose going to run into you from running into you.

Re:The environmental cost? (4, Interesting)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504313)

I don't get how this will 'help' the economy or the ailing auto industry either. The government is willing to foot (tax payer) money to sell an old car (for probably more than it's worth) to by a new car (that isn't guaranteed to be American). There are sooo many things fundamentally wrong with this that it just stuns me. First off, most eco-friendly cars cost 20k+ out the door and cars >20k would probably result in a relatively minuscule drop in CO2 emissions. Also if the government is willing to foot vouchers whose value is more than the car in question, wouldn't that just exacerbate the economic problem by introducing unnecessary spending of tax dollars? Third, if the cars are no American (as most low-cost eco friendly cars are) then how is that helping the economy? Maybe someone smarter than me can explain how this is a 'good' idea?

Re:The environmental cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504317)

isnt the main point to save money, from TFA it seemed that they were just trying to make it sound more appealing with the co2 bit

Re:The environmental cost? (4, Insightful)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504393)

the manufacture of a car creates SIX TIMES the CO2 that the average car will emit in its lifetime

How silly. whoever told you that (citation needed) is comparing the total CO2 output of the factories that assemble the car and the raw material against simply what comes out of a car's exhaust pipe. This is forgetting how much energy is used extracting, transporting, refining and distributing the fuel that the car runs on. It also neglects that oil much rarer than the coke and coal burned to smelt steel and run the grid; whatever replaces it will likely be much less efficient to create than oil is to dig up. Rarity is also a factor with how much energy needs to be used invading countries for their oil.

If there was any validity to the claim at all, the places that make cars would be more notoriously polluted than the ones that use them. This is not the case, How many cars are made in Las Angeles for example.

Re:The environmental cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504635)

i am sorry, did you try to refute his point then rattle off a bunch of crap in a run on sentence which doesnt make sense in the least and even complain he needs a citation when you dont offer any yourself? wtf?

Re:The environmental cost? (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504595)

CO2 is not the only component of auto exhaust. Exhaust is not only component of environmental impact during the complete life cycle of the auto. So I think you are oversimplifying things too much.

Just a question (3, Informative)

papabob (1211684) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504165)

Is this the first time the US goverment give helps to replace old cars? In Europe is a common practice and I though it was a worldwide routine.

(If I recall correctly, it started here in mid 80s to help the transition from leaded to unleaded gas and to improve the general safety of the cars - you know, in those days people drove those 70's tiny tin-'cubic'-car with sharp edges and no safety belt)

Same crappy idea (1)

no-body (127863) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504169)

as in Germany - trade in your older clunker - 9 years or older - and get a better car for Eur 2,500.

Only problem is that many 9 year or older cars sell on the market for more than Eur 2,500, so - who wants the bonus if you can sell it for more?

Maybe older cars are cheaper in US?

Re:Same crappy idea (2, Interesting)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504261)

For a nine year old car I'd be happy to get US$2500. Granted, Americans drive more. I live in Los Angeles where most people drive 20+ mi each way to work every day--never mind running errands, shopping, taking kids to school, etc. My five year old car has 175,000 miles on it.

Re:Same crappy idea (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504621)

That's a lot of driving - I've got ~190K miles on my 21-year-old van, but the longest commute I've had was ~10 miles of driving (vs. telecommuting, or 1 mile of driving to the train.)

The price of older cars depends a lot on condition - here in California, winters are mild and cars don't rust, and most cars these days can last over 200K miles (300K km) (though my van needed a new engine after ~110K miles, because it's from Detroit.) Last year's high gas prices made older big cars lose a lot of value; mv van's probably worth twice as much now that gas prices have dropped.

Save America! Buy More! (4, Insightful)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504207)

"Should the bill pass, the "Cash for Clunkers" program would reimburse drivers with a credit of $2,500 to $4,500 for drivers who turn in fuel-inefficient vehicles to be scrapped and purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle."

Sounds like an automotive version of gun buybacks, and equally as silly.

If the goal is to save the environment, tying the credit to the purchase of a new vehicle just takes a perfectly good car whose environmental costs have already been incurred out of circulation.

If the goal is to reduce oil consumption, using taxpayer money to fund the purchase of new cars, instead of getting affordable, useful mass transit, seems like a horrible waste of money.

Clearly, this is designed to prop up the auto industry. By reducing the number of used cars on the market, which compete with new cars, and using taxpayer money for what normally would be the trade-in value of their car, they're artificially reducing the supply of cars in the country in order to drive sales of new cars. This has the effect of screwing over people who would never be able to buy a new car, since there will be a reduction in the supply of used cars.

But that's ok. The government wants you to get deeper into debt to buy things you can't afford. That's the ticket out of this recession!

Sounds like what we have in Singapore (4, Interesting)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504225)

To encourage car owners to scrap cars before 10 years, we have

1. Road tax increases for cars > 10 years old []
2. Rebates for cars unregistered before 10 years []

The majority of the cars on the roads here are 10 years old. Cars unregistered are either scrapped or exported to another country for resale.

Yet another case of "screw the responsible people" (5, Insightful)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504235)

Back in 2000, I bought a Toyota Echo that gets about 40 miles/gallon. In 2002, even though I could have afforded more I bought a small condo, skipping out on an ARM to get a 30 yr fixed rate. Now I'm learning that I should have bought a gas-guzzler so I could get free cash down the road, I should have taken out a huge ARM on an overpriced house because the gov would get my lender to reduce the principal anyway, and maybe I should have tried to run a company or two into the ground to get a mammoth bailout. Why is the government trying to take away every incentive to act prudently and responsibly?

Re:Yet another case of "screw the responsible peop (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504269)

To shut up the whiners who didn't act prudently or responsibly?

Unfortunately, the majority of the US population are children over the age of 20.

Re:Yet another case of "screw the responsible peop (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504571)

Prudence and responsibility mean independence. Governments want power, which requires dependence. I hope that answers your question.

Re:Yet another case of "screw the responsible peop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504589)

Of course, by having a 40mpg car you have saved 8-9 years worth of gas money over those people with the guzzlers. I can't speak for your experience, of course, but I have a similar car and I have saved a LOT more than $2500 by now. Let's just take my commute, which is a lot shorter than many people I know.

-I commute ~20 miles/day - 100 miles per week
-At 40 miles per gallon, that's 2.5 gallons per week
-Even just assuming the current price of $2.00 in my area, that comes to ~$5/week, ~$260/year,
~$2340 since 2000, assuming 9 years of ownership.

That's not counting trips to the grocery store, friends houses, entertainment, the annual trips to my parents house several hundred miles away or the two trips I took from southern to northern California OR the outrageous spike in prices last year.

If you're feeling left out in the cold by something like this, I suggest you go take a look at your odometer, and think hard about the amount of money you still saved compared to Joe-sport-utility-vehicle and calm down, knowing that you definitely got the better deal.

Tax dollars (4, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504239)

So they're going to offer us our own tax dollars we've paid them, to get rid of the cars we have?

Re:Tax dollars (4, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504275)

It's called a pyramid scam for a reason.

Money for better public transport where possible? (5, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504241)

May I humbly submit that a bit of money invested in public transport infrastructure, could pay off handsomely in terms of quality of life? Less people would even need cars, which would save them money. And it would help to decongest the roads, so people would get to work faster.

The huge decrease of pollution and need for fossil fuels is just an added bonus.

I don't say this works everywhere in the US, but certainly it would work in many cities.

Re:Money for better public transport where possibl (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504469)

Public transportation doesn't work in the suburbs nor in rural areas, which a lot of the US is composed of (although public transportation should be used in heavily urban areas). And don't even say "burn down the suburbs" or some bullshit like that, because it ain't going to happen. You'll see an electrification of transportation over the next decade, which gives you the benefit of being able to use renewable energy to power your vehicle while having a level of mobility unattainable with public transportation.

Re:Money for better public transport where possibl (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504491)

Care to explain why public transportation doesn't work in rural/suburbs?

Seems to do just fine here in Europe...

Re:Money for better public transport where possibl (1)

meatmanek (1062562) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504503)

And in Cleveland, New York City, Washington, D.C, etc. The only place I've seen that doesn't have effective public transportation to the suburbs is Indianapolis.

Re:Money for better public transport where possibl (4, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504521)

Let me use an example. The Chicago suburbs (one of which I live in). Public transportation from the 'burbs to downtown is easy. Anyone can do a hub and spoke light rail system (called Metra in our area). But how do you get around using public transportation from suburb to suburb? Bus? Doesn't happen. You can't cover hundreds of square miles with public transportation, becasue public transportation is built specifically for high density areas (for our purposes, I exclude things like Amtrak, the bullet train in Japan, and other long haul public transportation options).

Re:Money for better public transport where possibl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504663)

Sweden disagrees being the 4th largest country in Europe with only 52 people per square mile. Unless you live alone in the middle of nowhere there's always public transportation within reasonable reach by foot.

Re:Money for better public transport where possibl (1)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504557)

Europe, Japan, and many other such countries have much higher average population densities than America does. The cost / benefit ratio, or return on investment for public transportation is directly correlated to population density.

I live in Tucson. It's a medium sized city sprawled out over many miles of area. The cost per capita to truly cover the grid that is Tucson and the surrounding areas well enough that people would not need cars would be enough to bankrupt very individual living in Tucson. Instead we make do with some bus lines that move along major routes to a few major locations and it will take you a couple of hours to get across town.

Re:Money for better public transport where possibl (5, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504625)

This is because Americans spend a lot more time and effort telling themselves that public transportation can not work and is frequented by people outside of my race & social status, when compared to Europeans.

For what it's worth: I am an American expat living in Europe.

fair? (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504243)

So we have a program (paid for by all tax payers when the government is already hard at work trying to bankrupt the whole country) that rewards the people who have been running around in gas guzzlers, but is not available to fuel efficient car drivers (let alone those peddling bikes or otherwise not wasting fuel). Am I the only one that sees this as vastly unfair?

Re:fair? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504293)


Life is supposed to be fair?


punishing the responsible people (4, Insightful)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504283)

So those of us who already made a choice to purchase an efficient vehicle aren't getting any incentives.

I am barely scraping by with my mortgage, but because I am not in arrears, I get no assistance. This is so similar, why are we coddling the idiots of society?

I thought Idiocracy was a fictional movie, not a crystal ball into the future.

They pay more to scrap fuel efficient cars (5, Insightful)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504309)

If you read to the bottom, they will over the higher dollar amounts for the 2002 and later vehicles. These will be the most modern and least polluting cars, so they are paying more to junk the least harmful cars.

If this was about reducing emissions, they would pay more to get older, dirtier, and less fuel efficient cars off the road. The worse the mpg, the more they would pay. This is about encouraging people that proved they have the money to buy a newer car to cycle into another newer car a lot sooner than they would. It's proof this is about encouraging consumerism, not ecology.

Re:They pay more to scrap fuel efficient cars (4, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504585)

>>If this was about reducing emissions, they would pay more to get older, dirtier, and less fuel efficient cars off the road.

The sad fact is, older (10+ year old cars) are at least, if not more, fuel-efficient than modern cars. I drive a '98 Buick Regal. The equivalent 2009 model has 1MPG less efficiency than my model. Let alone cars like the early 90s Civic hatchbacks, which still have MPGs which are only reached, if at all, by hybrids nowadays. Do we really want to remove a 94 Civic from the road and replace it with a lower-MPG modern Civic?

What I don't get... (1)

techmuse (160085) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504321)

Ok, so you bought a super inefficient SUV, and now you are rewarded for buying something new! But if you bought a Prius, you are not. Of course, we want to get everyone in to more fuel efficient cars. But this bill wouldn't do that, because it appears to give you the reward regardless of how fuel efficient your new car is. This is only beneficial if you must buy a new car that is MORE fuel efficient...

Re:What I don't get... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504355)

The Prius owners I've met have all gotten government handouts for their purchase of a hybrid. Not to mention that if you buy one, even now, you can use the "HOV" lane even if you're not driving an HOV.

This proposal is a complete and total clusterfuck and scam, of course, but let's not muddy the waters with lies about not receiving incentives for buying fuel efficient vehicles in the past.

Norway got a similar arrangement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504323)

Here in Norway, the car wrecker (companies selling used car parts) will pay NOK 1500,- (around USD 180) for a car wreck. The funding for this come from the covernment. It is called "vrakpant". The car wrecks are then taken apart and the parts sold. The motivation for this arrangement is to get cars that are no longer safe in trafic out of commision.

More info on this is available from [] and [] (Norwegian only).

Petter Reinholdtsen

Does it have to run? (2, Informative)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504373)

I'd be more than happy to give them mine, it just sits all the time.

Occasionally I push it around the parking lot so the front office doesn't harass me, but it really isn't worth keeping.
I'll take the Apple II out of its trunk, give it to them, and instead of a voucher I'd be happy to take cash.

With which I will buy one of those stackable Japanese pieces of shit that you can fit in a walkin closest that they call a car.

Seems like a good plan to me.

A better strategy for this bill (1)

techmuse (160085) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504379)

This bill offers money to people who drive inefficient vehicles in order to get them into new vehicles. But it need to ensure that the new vehicles are MORE efficient than the vehicle they are replacing. For example, suppose someone with a 15 MPG SUV gets rid of their SUV and uses the money plus the incentive to buy a new 12 MPG SUV. This clearly has not helped the environment (and in fact, has probably made it worse because of the additional energy and emissions required to produce the new vehicle). Additionally, it rewards people who bought the most fuel efficient vehicles possible for making a poor choice while giving no reward to people who did the right thing and bought an efficient vehicle to begin with. I propose the following changes to the measure:

-Offer people a reward based on the amount of *increase* in fuel efficiency of their new vehicle over their old vehicle. That cuts out the incentive for people who buy a less efficient vehicle, and rewards people more for buying more efficient vehicles while still providing an incentive for people who own an older fuel efficient vehicle.

-Weight the incentive so that the better the fuel efficiency of your new car, the better the incentive that you get. In other words, if you get rid of an old 15 mpg car and buy a new 16 mpg car, you get very little incentive. If you sell a 39 mpg car and buy a new 40 mpg car, you get a much higher incentive. This gives the best incentives to people who buy the most efficient cars.

-Offer the highest incentive for people who get rid of a car altogether. The bill appear to be offering a public transit incentive, but it is lower than the incentive to buy a new car. But we get a much greater environmental benefit if people take public transport.

-Also tie the size of the incentive to the improvement in emissions of the new vehicle over the old one. Old cars pollute much more than new ones. Getting cars with higher emissions off the road will help significantly in the fight against global warming. Thus, it makes sense to reward people for choosing the cars with the lowest emissions.

Is this bill really about the environment? (5, Insightful)

SPQRDecker (762669) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504397)

This has nothing to do with the environment. It is simply a greenwashed incentive for boosting the ailing auto industry. Not that there's anything wrong with that given our economic woes, but it's kinda dishonest. Not only does the production of a new car produce more pollution (as another commenter pointed out), but many older cars are still fuel efficient, especially small ones that are well maintained, while new cars other than hybrids are no more fuel efficient than they were a decade ago. My aging stick-shifting Saturn, for example, still gets around 40 mpg on the highway even though it is now 11 years old. If they were really interested in environmental issues, they would instead propose an investment public transportation and give those who scrap their cars free train/bus passes. In most cities public transport is a joke. There's limited or no rail service and a network of depressing buses. Would I scrap my carbon belcher for a few years of free rides on an expanded and convenient public transit system? Maybe. But is this the point of this bill? Probably not.

Summit Racing/SEMA take on this... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504407)

I got an email from Summit Racing on 12/31 about this. Here's their argument against it:

Dear Fellow Enthusiast, As a SEMA Member Company, we have received an Urgent Legislative Action Alert from the association. You may be interested in this legislative alert and the possible impact it will have on your hobby. The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is a non-profit trade association composed of more than 6,800 member companies involved in all aspects of the automotive industry, from manufacturers to car clubs and race teams. The SEMA Action Network (SAN) protects your hobby from unfair or unnecessary legislation on national and local levels. Through distribution of information and the collective voice of automotive enthusiasts and businesses, the SEMA Action Network has successfully impacted legislation concerning scrappage laws, equipment standards, registration classifications, emissions regulations, and more. The following information is directly from SEMA. If you would like to contact the lawmaker, follow the instructions in the alert. Thank you for your time, Your Friends at Summit Racing Equipment Washington lawmakers are drafting a large economic stimulus package to help create jobs and rebuild infrastructure. They want to include a nationwide scrappage program which would give U.S. tax dollars to consumers who turn-in older cars to have them crushed, as a misguided attempt to spur new car sales. The lawmakers need to scrap this idea. The stimulus package is being drafted right now. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wants to introduce the bill on January 6 and have it approved by Congress by January 20, so that President Obama can sign it into law after he is inaugurated. Contact House Speaker Nancy Pelosi IMMEDIATELY To Oppose Cash for Clunkers! Call: 202-225-0100 Click here to send an electronic message: []

Re:Summit Racing/SEMA take on this... (1)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504481)

Not to mention, if you want to do an electric vehicle conversion (where the old gas engine is removed and replaced with an electric drivetrain), scrapping old cars effectively destroys your source of donor vehicles!

This is the best they could come up with? (1)

ender81b (520454) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504433)

Really? You know, a reason most people I know drive older cars is because you don't have to worry about car payments and premium insurance. Not saying I couldn't afford it, but it's nice not having to worry about it.

Another (fairly large) reason I, personally, a drive 1986 nissan pickup 4x4 (just getting broken in at 227,000 miles) is because it still gets OK gas mileage,it was all of $1500, and I can fix most anything on it myself. Good luck doing that on a new foreign or domestic car. It's alos become evident - to me at least- that picking up a 80s or 90s foreign car or truck for a few thousand in decent shape and spending a few hundred bucks to fix it every year is a helluva lot cheaper than blowing a ton of money on car payments & insurance.

Oh yeah all these 'ancient' cars still get comparable gas mileage to new vehicles. My Nissan gets around 20 mpg in the city ... all of 1mpg less than the 2009 ford ranger (

They can start with our powerplants (2, Insightful)

zymano (581466) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504445)

Exchange them for something other than coal burning steam turbines.

Basically antiquated technology.

Reform the coal into hydrogen and build giant fuel cells.

Sorry kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26504451)

I can see all kids just getting their license cry in horror when they notice there isn't a car for sale for less than $2,500.

Ah well I guess they'll have to get a job and save some money.. oh wait there are no jobs.

Limited government (4, Insightful)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504517)

What the fuck happened to the concept of limited government? 50+ comments on here, and not one asking what business is it of government to make people's decisions for them? I understand that /. tilts way to the left, but a total lack of outrage or even acknowledgment of the underlying problem here is just depressing.

Re:Limited government (2, Insightful)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504645)

Pick your battles. Speak to your audience. You're not going to convince a crowd "tilted way to the left" of the flaws in this measure by basing your argument on libertarian ideals.

In this case the measure is so obviously flawed that it won't even achieve its own stated goals. Showing how this measure won't live up to your audience's own ideals is much easier than asking them to abandon those ideals in order to agree with you.

Better traffic control systems would actually help (4, Insightful)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504631)

One thing I've alwasy thought would help a lot would be better traffic control systems. Governments don't really have a big incentive to really optimize these systems and I think that great strides could be made in improving them. I always wind up spending several minutes every time I go to work sitting at lights when there is no traffic going the other way. That should never happen. Better and more intelligent systems would mean faster commutes, less idling at red lights, and fewer cars on the road at any one time since travel times would be shorter.

tax money for foreign cars? (1)

Teriblows (1138203) | more than 5 years ago | (#26504643)

unless the replacement is built in the us theres really no point in sending the money over seas.
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