Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cash for clunkers (the Sequel): Trading up to a Hummer to save the environment?

Tommywonk has joined the ranks of those praising Cash for Clunkers, and his analysis seems compelling at first glance:

The average gas mileage of vehicles sold was 25.4 mpg, compared to 15.8 mpg for vehicles traded in. 83 percent of trade-ins were trucks, while 60 percent of new vehicles sold were cars. The most popular vehicle was the Ford Focus, which is rated 28 mpg combined city and highway.

If 250,000 new cars are bought under the program, and the average car is driven 10,000 miles per year, car owners will save nearly 60 million gallons of gasoline in the first year. At $2.50 a gallon, the savings to drivers will total about $150 million.

He also points out the rise in automobile sales.

So why wouldn't we do Cash for Clunkers II?

The devil is in the details of the sequel, that's why. Here's PoliticsDaily on the current House Bill to extend funding for the program:

But a close look at what qualifies as "more fuel efficient" in the program reveals loopholes big enough to drive a GMC Yukon through (yes, that's eligible, too.)

The guidelines in the House-passed bill state that large SUVs and trucks, typically considered gas guzzlers in everyday conversation, qualify for the $3,500 credit, and in some cases the $4,500 credit, depending on the trade-ins that come through the door for them. New Category 2 trucks -- like the Hummer H-3, Ford Explorer, Chevy Silverado, and Toyota Tundra -- qualify if they get at least 15 MPG combined, and get at least one mile per gallon more than the car or truck being traded in.

The larger Category 3 trucks have no fuel-efficiency rules at all, since the EPA does not rate them for MPG. The only requirement for their purchase is that a buyer be trading in a pre-2002 Category 3 truck that is as large or larger than the one they're buying. For example, you can bring in your 2001 Chevy Suburban and buy a new Chevy Suburban, and still get the $3,500 credit. The bill has no requirement that the trucks, classified by the Federal Highway Administration as "work trucks," be used for farm or construction work.

Wow. This means that if I had kept my old 2001 Ford F-250 (which got about 12.5 mpg but was an awesome vehicle) (I sold it four years ago because I could not afford the gas for my commute--gee! the free market made me do it) I could now get a $4,500 rebate for trading up to a Hummer.

That's my government in action. Saving the environment (and the automobile industry) by selling more Hummers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i bought the h3 alpha! with all the incentives it was 10k off! woot!