Old Car Disposal Programs Going National

buyback_programWhat a way to start off the year. Politicians are at it again. Remember buybacks? These were programs offered by states like California and Texas that paid owners for their old cars. The lawmakers claimed taking these vehicles off the streets would prompt the purchase of newer ones that pollute less and get better mileage. And as for the cars turned over to the state, many of which still had miles left or could have been used as parts to keep other oldies on the road, were simply being crushed!

We’ve been following California’s program since last May and now we are sad to report, as we predicted with similar CA laws, it has gone national. Congress now wants to expand buyback programs by bundling it with an economic stimulus package. Right now, states are not allowed to use federal money for their buyback programs, but this bill, if passed, will give them the authority to do so, and give states without such programs an incentive to start one.

It’s true that modern cars do emit fewer greenhouse gases because of better fuel efficiency and emissions control. But, as we calculated in Issue 2 of JNC magazine, the typical 4-cylinder 70s Japanese import would need to be driven many years to break even with the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by factories in the construction of a new car that the states are encouraging owners to buy. Not surprisingly, auto manufacturers (who don’t make money if you don’t buy new cars) are in full support of these laws.

This issue affects owners of vintage Japanese cars particularly, because the majority of owners do not consider them valuable. The payouts offered by states often seems reasonable to the average non-enthusiast, and this will lead to a lack of parts and project starting points when it comes to nostalgics!

Fortunately, we have SEMA to lobby on behalf of enthusiasts and the automotive aftermarket industry. But it’s vital that you contact the Congressional representatives from your state as well and make your objections known. Reader NSR_S30 has posted a great set of talking points a great set of talking points to make your letter a breeze to write.

Full SEMA press release after the jump.

Efforts to Scrap Older Cars Targeted for Inclusion in Economic Stimulus Package

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 2, 2009) – SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, is actively opposing an effort by some Congressional lawmakers to include a nationwide “Cash for Clunkers” program in the economic stimulus package currently being considered in Washington. Cash for Clunkers, or scrappage as it is more commonly known, would use taxpayer dollars to purchase and crush older vehicles into blocks of scrap metal. There is no evidence that the program will achieve the goal of boosting new car sales.

Many states have considered these programs in the past as a way to help clean the air but abandoned the effort because they simply don’t work. The programs are not cost-effective and do not achieve verifiable air quality or fuel economy benefits.

“In fact, states are currently prohibited from using federal funds for Cash for Clunker programs under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ),” said Steve McDonald, SEMA’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “The reasons are simple. Regulators have focused on a vehicle’s age rather than the emissions the vehicle produces, based on the erroneous perception that all older cars are dirty cars. These clunker programs do not bother to measure the real emissions of the vehicles involved. Rather, the programs “estimate” emissions reductions using numbers that are significantly overstated.”

Another shortcoming is that clunker programs rarely capture the “gross polluter,” an improperly maintained vehicle of any model year, which puts out dramatically more emissions due to poor maintenance. Those seeking a quick fix through vehicle clunker programs ignore this reality.

Clunker programs even on a voluntary basis further diminish the availability of affordable transportation and repair parts to low-income drivers as more and more older cars are crushed. They do not guarantee that low-income individuals will be able to afford to purchase new vehicles, let alone more fuel efficient or cleaner vehicles, with the money provided by clunker programs. Clunker programs also undermine the used car donation programs of charitable organizations such as Melwood Industries, Salvation Army, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

“Rather, auto restoration, customization and repair shops nationwide would suffer with the loss of older cars, trucks and parts they need to supply and service their customers,” McDonald added. “An unchecked Cash for Clunkers program risks destroying classic, historic and special-interest vehicles. America safeguards its artistic and architectural heritage against indiscriminate destruction. Our automotive and industrial heritage deserves the same protection.”

In lieu of clunker programs, SEMA has recommended that Congress work with the states on programs that identify gross polluters and upgrade them with equipment that improves their emissions performance dramatically. These benefits are measured and cost-effective in reducing emissions. Adapting newer technologies to older vehicles benefits the vehicle owner and brings business to auto dealers and repair shops repairing gross polluting vehicles, which in turn will improve air quality. A number of commercially available products and technologies exist which could substantially lower the emission rates of older vehicles while also offering the owner added performance, driveability and fuel mileage. These innovative solutions drive product sales, produce American jobs and secure tax revenues for the government all while sustaining the multi-billion dollar vehicle restoration industry. McDonald concluded, “Now, that’s an economic stimulus we all can support.”

SEMA represents the $38.1 billion specialty automotive industry. Founded in 1963, the trade association has 7,358 member companies. It is the authoritative source of research data, trends and market growth information for automakers and the specialty auto products industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger cars, minivans, trucks, SUVs, crossovers and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA, 91765-3914; call 909/396-0289; or visit www.sema.org or www.enjoythedrive.com.

This post is filed under: laws.

8 Responses to Old Car Disposal Programs Going National

  1. Kimico says:

    It just make me sad. I have to investigate if we have the same problem here in Florida. In the mean time guys, let’s start writing to your legislature representatives about this issue. It makes me real sad to see a good old car go. A car that has a lot of potential to restore or just for parts.

  2. Dan says:

    I bet the OEMs are lobbying for this big time in light of the recent sales slump.

  3. GEN2TWINCAM says:

    It makes me cringe.

    My newest vehicle is a 1990 Mitsubishi Montero, and I’m often shocked at the decent examples of this model that I see at the junk yard. Many of the vehicles there have been “donated” to the Boys Club, etc. (the source is marked on the windshield). The crush cycle is quick, so there’s not much time to retrieve parts once you find a desirable car.

    I live in the Denver area and the local PBS station urges donating your old car – showing (to my dismay) a 2nd Gen Civic like mine being swifted away. The Jazz radio station even has a “Junkers for Jazz” scheme.

    A state sponsored program would be yet another big hit for collectors.

  4. Ben says:

    Scrap metal prices are up too, so there’s lots of incentive for junkyards to crush the cars they get.

  5. colink says:

    What is the world we live in coming to

  6. Mark says:

    “The lawmakers claimed taking these vehicles off the streets would prompt the purchase of newer ones that pollute less and get better mileage.”
    Sorry but my 72 Datsun 510 wagon still gets 31 mpg !! Wouldnt drive a “new” car even if they paid me. My .02 pennies.

  7. Ben says:

    Mark – that’s so true. They are probably automatically lumping in Japanese nostalgics with Detroit’s land yachts when they think of old cars, not that we should crush either!

  8. Burabuda says:

    all based on science right? yes, the science of consumerism, aka pretend that they care about the environment by getting rid of old polluters. makes sense to most people, but most people can’t grasp the carbon footprint model: in other words, how much greater the environmental impact caused by building a new car than keeping and maintaining an older car. this is the world we live in

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