The Barack Obama administration and the House Energy and Commerce Committee have reached agreement on a compromise Cash for Clunkers bill to provide incentives to motorists to trade in older, supposedly dirtier and less-fuel-efficient vehicles for newer models.
According to an Energy and Commerce fact sheet, the Cash for Clunkers program in the compromise bill would be authorized for up to one year and provide for 1 million or so new car and truck purchases. Under the program, eligible passenger cars and light trucks must get less than 18 mpg. Motorists would be eligible for vouchers of $3,500 each if their
new vehicles improve on the old vehicles' gas mileage by at least 4 mpg (for passenger cars) or 2 mpg (for light trucks). For improvements of up to 10 mpg for cars or 5 mpg for trucks, the voucher would be $4,500.
Owners of large light-duty trucks (6,000 to 8,500 lbs.) getting mileage of at least 15 mpg would be eligible for vouchers of $3,500 if a new vehicle offers 1 mpg improvement over the old vehicle, $4,500 if it offers 2 mpg. Motorists may also trade in pre-2002 work trucks of 8,500 to 10,000 lbs. and receive a $3,500 voucher for a truck in the same or smaller weight class.
President Obama, various members of Congress and a number of auto makers favor the legislation, pointing to a surge of new-car purchases in Germany following the introduction of a similar program there.
Automotive aftermarket and repair associations, however, oppose the Cash for Clunkers concept on the grounds that it will offer little real energy savings or environmental benefit and serve only to destroy older vehicles that are necessary sources of parts to both auto repair professionals and auto hobbyists.
At the least, these groups said, the programs should allow vouchers for motorists to repair or retrofit their older vehicles.
We wish they would consider a repair option, said Robert L. Redding, Washington representative for the Automotive Service Association (ASA), regarding the compromise bill. They may have considered one, but they didn't include it.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) said it is disappointed by the Cash for Clunkers compromise package.
The Diamond Bar, Calif.-based trade group said it has consistently supported the concept of government-issued vouchers and other incentives to purchase new, fuel-efficient cars as a mechanism to achieve that goal. With a program that includes scrapping cars and trucks, Congress is simply taking the wrong approach. SEMA will continue to work with lawmakers to find ways to minimize the harm a motor vehicle scrappage program will needlessly impose on thousands of independent repair shops, auto restorers, customizers and their customers across the country.
Any incentive plan to encourage the purchase of new, fuel-efficient vehicles should include provisions to preserve collector cars and provide for vehicle and parts recycling, SEMA said.
Officials of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), which also opposes Cash for Clunkers, could not immediately be reached for comment.