Monday, August 24, 2009

Scrapping the worst of the worst, right?

The Cash For Clunkers program represented a new wave of American thinking: let's get the bottom tail of the fuel-efficient autos distribution off the road. Scrap the environmentally unfriendly clunkers. Although the program did get the auto inventory moving, did it really scrap the worst of the worst?

This is a sample of 6, but it seems to me that the car most worthy of scrapping did not get scrapped. Was it the objective of Congress to scrap the marginal clunkers? Well, if it was, then they succeeded (again, in this sample size of 6). According to CNNMoney, here is what the proud owner of 1983 GMC Vandura (11 mpg), pictured above, said about his/her experience:
My smoke-belching, fuel-guzzling diesel van doesn't qualify for Cash for Clunkers. I have insurance, current license plates, a safety-inspection sticker... but my van is one year too old to qualify. Is my 1983 van a classic, Congress?

Maybe they consider it too classy to be scrapped and think it should still be running up and down the highways. Well, that's what I do with it now, and I expect this old thing will be alive and kickin' for decades to come.
I don't know, seems a little off to me.

Rebecca Wilder


  1. It was very weird what they identified as a "clunker". Both our cars weren't even close - '93 & '96. My question is what will happen to car sales now that the program is ended? Any pent up demand seems to have been taken care of by the promotion. Also, how long will it take the US Government to repay the dealers? Lovely...

  2. Yeah, you wouldn't think a car would be too old for the program...However, I remember reading (and I believe I wrote about it too) that when Cash for Clunkers was announced, car collectors were worried sick that the govt would scrap vintage vehicles and their subsequent parts (their scarcity makes them quite valuable in the classic car world). That would be my only guess why a vehicle would be considered too old.

    @Janie: "My question is what will happen to car sales now that the program is ended?" Great question, we're all waiting for that answer. I read an interesting concept that addressed your question -- they're calling it the "Clunker Hangover."


  3. It is my understanding that intense lobbying from the "classic" car community in California put the cut off year at 25 (1984 I think). I had no idea they wielded that much clout.

    Consumer and environmental groups went along with it and Members of Congress didn't seem to want to spend political capital for that particular fight.

    According to the CARS website, the average fuel efficiency gain was:

    New vehicles Mileage: 24.9 MPG Trade-in Mileage: 15.8
    MPG Overall increase: 9.2 MPG, or a 58% improvement,0,6098269.story

    Why 'clunkers' program won't take some of the most polluting cars


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