U.S. Scrappage Scheme Moving Forward

by Benjamin Jones on May 6, 2009

Junkyard Plymouth

Since we last reported on the situation, the two sides have come to an agreement on how to move forward with the scrappage scheme. Both sides have compromised, and a lot of the worst parts (like that American-only clause) have been stripped from the proposal, but it’s still nothing to be happy about.

Having become even more jaded to the idea, I chalk this up to nothing but industry stimulus with a damaging and dangerous veil of greenwashing draped over top of it. Here are the plan specifics:

  • Passenger cars: Cars that get under 18 mpg will be eligible for trade-in on new cars getting over 22 mpg. The rebate will be $3,500 unless the mpg differential will be 10 or more, in which case you’ll get a $4,500 rebate.
  • Light-duty trucks: Trucks under 18 mpg can be traded in for trucks over 18 mpg. $3,500 for a 2 mpg difference and $4,500 for a 5 mpg difference.
  • Large light-duty trucks: Trucks under 15 mpg can be traded in for large trucks that get 1 mpg better mileage and a $3,500 voucher. If you somehow manage to find a truck with 2 mpg better, you get $4,500.
  • Work trucks: These trucks have no EPA rating, but if you trade in a pre-2002 vehicle for a new vehicle of the same or smaller class, you’ll get a $3,500 voucher.

Rewarding mediocrity

So here’s the proposal: $3,500 to buy a car with a dismal 22 mpg rating. That’s just terrible. If the government is going to be giving out lots of money, why not at least require some better fuel economy ratings? The same goes for trucks. I realize that large trucks get bad mileage, but there are enough choices out there that we can require more than 1 mpg of difference. Wouldn’t stricter rebate requirements also push automakers to improve so they qualify?

I just don’t get it. It seems like a lot of money for not much improvement in fuel economy. Then when you consider the high environmental cost of producing new cars and large trucks, this deal seems even worse. Why are we encouraging consumers to turn in a 15 mpg truck for a 16 mpg truck? A 2001 panel van for a 2010 panel van? That kind of turnover does nothing but prop up the truck industry that dragged our nation’s fuel economy into the gutter in the first place.

What a terrible waste. I really hope this legislation doesn’t pass, but I doubt there is any hope in stopping it. If people learn how to get better gas mileage with their current car, they could easily outpace a 1, 2 or 4 mpg increase without having to buy a new vehicle.

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1 Concrete May 12, 2009 at 7:48 pm

This is one of the most misguided attempts at stimulating the “proper” behavior the government of the United States has perpetrated. Call it vehicle eugenics. Our Big Brother is here to “help” -unfortunately he is very very stupid.

Let the market (the people) speak
The big three deserve to pay for their behavior
whether that is for poor car designs or over paid workers/executives
– let them fall – the best will rise up and survive – the bad will be scrapped

2 Benjamin Jones May 12, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Thanks for the comment. I tend to agree, the more I think about it, the more this seems like a terrible idea. As did the auto bailout and things. Ford did a good job and they should’ve been rewarded, but instead the two failures get money and government guarantees.

3 eco_generator May 22, 2009 at 8:12 pm

They took away they US only clause, so if they instead said you need a LOT better gas mileage…. that’s just a way of saying buy foreign (Mercedes diesel work trucks, Honda cars, etc.)

Rock; meet hard place. Neither option would have sat well with just about anybody. You can’t say buy only American “junk” then switch over to ‘here is a lot of money for you to buy up a lot of foreign cars’. The second situation is especially horrendous because they would shoot in the foot the very massive companies that they just put massive investments into. :/

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