Recently, I’ve just not been in the mood to write. What’s worse…I’ve not really had anything to write about. It turns out, I’m not the only blogger with this issue. And, to be honest, it’s not like there haven’t been things that I’ve taken issue with, which usually provides more than enough bantha fodder for me to feast on in this space. So, I had to do a little research for today’s topic: cash for clunkers.
When I first heard about the Cash for Clunkers rebate program, I thought it was an excellent idea. Here was something that would help the general public, the auto industry, the economy, the environment…how could it go wrong? Wow! Let me tell you, it’s in the fine print as the auto industry might say. So, the deal is, you can trade in your old gas guzzler for a new model with better gas mileage and get a voucher for up to $4500, depending on your trade-in and your new purchase. Great, right?! But, take a look at these rules from CARS.gov
There are several requirements (but you also have to meet certain conditions for the car or truck you wish to buy). Your dealer can help you determine whether you have an eligible trade in vehicle.
Your trade-in vehicle must
- have been manufactured less than 25 years before the date you trade it in
- have a “new” combined city/highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less
- be in drivable condition
- be continuously insured and registered to the same owner for the full year preceding the trade-in
- The trade-in vehicle must have been manufactured not earlier than 25 years before the date of trade in and, in the case of a category 3 vehicle, must also have been manufactured not later than model year 2001
Note that work trucks (i.e., very large pickup trucks and cargo vans) have different requirements.
So, yeah, the idea, in theory, is great. Get huge enviro-killers off the road by offering to help them buy a new vehicle, but check out how lame the requirements are for your new vehicle:
Cash For Clunkers – Car Allowance Rebate System Overview
Summary of Car Allowance Rebate System – Cash for Clunkers Voucher Qualifications Min. Fuel Economy for New Vehicle $3,500 Voucher $4,500 Voucher Passenger Car 22 mpg * Mileage improvement of at least 4 mpg Mileage improvement of at least 10 mpg Light-Duty Truck ** 18 mpg * Mileage improvement of at least 2 mpg Mileage improvement of at least 5 mpg Large Light-Duty Trucks *** 15 mpg * Mileage improvement of at least 1 mpg or trade-in of a work truck Mileage improvement of at least 2 mpg Commercial trucks ****
Trade-in must be at least pre-2002
* EPA Combined MPG ** under 6,000 lbs. ***6,000 lbs. – 8,500 lbs. **** 8,500 – 10,000 lbs.
The best you have to achieve is 22 mpg for a passenger car? Seriously? And that has to be 4 mpg better than your previous vehicle for you to qualify for even the cheapest voucher. What were you driving before, the Exxon Valdez? Look, I’m squeezing about 40 mpg (on a good week) out of C.’s 1994-5 Honda Civic, and that’s when I drive it. Most of the time I’m on my bike. How many miles can I go on a gallon of Gatorade?
I’m guessing that this program was brilliant when it was on the back of a napkin during a late-night bull session, but by the time it wallowed through the congressional gauntlet, it was toothless garbage. We ought to have no less than 33-35 mpg efficiency in this country for every vehicle, unless that vehicle has a particular “special use.” And, if it does have a special use, you’d better have proof that you use it for that very thing. For example, if you have a farm truck that gets 12 mpg, you’d better be bringing your pig or tobacco in with you when you re-register it every year. No more executive farmers who drive around in Escalades to see their ranch.
In other news, I’ve gone back to work after 12 weeks of paternity leave. I miss the little munchkin…even more so because I love my job so much Aside: dripping with sarcasm and I’d much rather be home. Also, I may have some extra work as a freelance writer, making a little dough by writing up an industry newsletter with my own particular brand of “lawyer-approved” humor, so that should be fun. And finally, I’ll try and be a little more conscientious about writing more in the future. I know that this is the highlight of your day.
See you in the funny papers!