The US government Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), or as its been nicknamed, Cars for Clunkers, has just lifted off, but it looks like it will be running for a lot shorter period than the posted November 1st deadline. The purpose of CARS is to “energize the economy, boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation’s roadways,” through giving auto dealers the possibility to offer up to $4,500 discounts to people trading in an old car (which must be demolished) when buying a new one. NPR (along with other news outlets) reports today that the program is running out of money. $1 billion is apparently small potatoes when everyone wants a hybrid. House Democrats now hope to add another $2 billion to keep this tra$hy car campaign up and running.
In Sweden, a program with similar ambitions existed up until recently, through which a $1,350 voucher was made available to those buying an “eco-car”, i.e. one of those supposedly less environmentally damaging ones. At the moment, it seems that instead of extending the program, buyers of eco-cars will be have their auto tax waived for the first five years.
Of course, the idea of eco-friendly cars is still more or less humbug. Further, scraping used cars produces a lot of metal trash (or rather, tra$h), along with lead, sulphuric acid and mercury, that needs to be taken care of. Whether this is included in the plans to energize the economy and boost the auto industry, I don’t know. Regardless, I’d rather see another $2 billion invested in public transportation (starting with the horribly malfunctioning US railroad system).