“Cash for Clunkers” vs. “Cash for Un-Clunkers”
[Updated: New link to “Cash for Un-Clunkers” added]
Far from a model of energy-efficiency, the CARS (Cash for Clunkers) program creates a system that encourages mind-boggling waste of energy, money, and natural resources.
The word “clunker” makes you think of cars with no real value left, in poor mechanical shape, incredibly inefficient, outdated, unsafe, and already a problem for the owner. The government program assumes the clunker is such a problem that the it requires that the “trade-ins” drive-train be destroyed within 2 days, else the dealer is fined $15,000. In reality, there are perfectly good vehicles with lots of value remaining – and can get measurably much better mileage if driven efficiently – being turned in and destroyed.
Take for example this video of a decidedly “un-clunky” Volvo S40 or S80 being destroyed as part of the CARS program. All of the energy used to produce that car is completely wasted, even if it would still have value in the used car market.
WARNING: This is a surprisingly graphic video – especially if you are a “car guy”. This top-quality machine literally screams as the “liquid glass” solution (used in place of motor oil) scours the moving parts inside this engine, eventually overheating it enough to start a fire in the engine compartment, and puking it’s last remaining ounces of red-hot oil out onto the ground in front of it as it finally seizes up.
Some thoughts on this video:
- That’s a well engineered, safe, and fairly efficient high-quality car that apparently ran well when turned in.
- It has obvious value remaining (KBB says around $13K).
- I can’t believe it ran for over 4 minutes with sodium silicate instead of oil.
- Thank goodness it didn’t puke up that red-hot oil all over the young man as he reached across the engine to put the oil fill cap (?) back on.
On Wednesday it was announced that the program was suspended – some say it was because dealership couldn’t get their paperwork filed fast enough to not go bankrupt in the short-term, others said it was because the program was too successful and already “spent” all of it’s funding. Then yesterday it was announced that the program would be re-funded, using grants previously slated for other energy-efficiency improvement programs.
I propose a different plan called: “Cash for Un-Clunkers”
Can anyone answer me “why” we should scrap perfectly good cars instead of invest in improving driving habits?