Measure Introduced by Senators Feinstein, Collins, and Schumer Would Establish National Incentive Program for Voluntary Retirement of Fuel-Inefficient Vehicles
Jan 14 2009
Washington, DC – A measure introduced today by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) would establish a national voucher program to enable and encourage drivers to voluntarily trade in their older, less fuel efficient car, truck or SUV for a more fuel efficient vehicle.
Specifically, the so-called “Cash for Clunkers” program would reimburse drivers with a credit of $2,500 to $4,500 for drivers who turn in fuel-inefficient vehicles to be scrapped, and purchase a more fuel efficient vehicle. The traded-in vehicles must have a fuel economy of no more than 18 miles per gallon, be in drivable condition, and have been registered for at least the past 120 days. Vouchers could also be redeemed for transit fares for participating local public transportation agencies. The program would operate for four years, from 2009 – 2012, and is expected to encourage the early retirement of up to one million vehicles per year.
“Last Congress, we successfully enacted legislation – which I authored with Senator Snowe and others – to improve the fuel efficiency of America’s fleet of new cars, trucks and SUVs by at least 10 miles per gallon over 10 years. But we face real challenges with trying to encourage drivers to trade in their older, less fuel efficient vehicles – particularly in this tough economic climate,” Senator Feinstein said.
“This bill will help address that problem. It will create a voucher program to reimburse drivers who trade in their old cars, trucks and SUVs with a coupon of $2,500 to $4,500, depending on the fuel efficiency of the purchased car. If enacted, this bill would be an important part of helping getting America’s struggling automobile industry back on its feet – and help consumers who are concerned about covering the cost of buying a more fuel efficient vehicle. I’d like to thank my colleague Senator Salazar for his leadership in helping to craft some of the bill’s key concepts,” Senator Feinstein added.
“This legislation would give consumers an incentive to turn over their old, inefficient vehicles, saving 80,000 barrels of motor fuel every day,” Senator Collins said. “Taking these cars and trucks off our roads and highways would help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate the economy. In addition, it would help boost demand for manufacturers of newer, efficient models and bring in new business for car dealers who are struggling in the current economy.”
Senator Schumer said: “For Americans who have a clunker sitting in their driveway, this is an even better trade-in offer than they could get from any car dealership. Our proposal will take inefficient cars off the roads in exchange for a down payment on a newer, cleaner vehicle. Car owners also have the option of swapping their old car for vouchers to ride their local bus or subway for free. This is a classic win-win that can provide stimulus for the economy and make long-term gains for the environment.”
When implemented, as estimated by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the program would:
- Save between 40,000 to 80,000 barrels per day of motor fuel by the end of the fourth year, (based on an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 vouchers issued per year).
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions between 6.6 million metric tons to 7.6 million metric tons, or the equivalent of removing 1.1 million to 2.2 million vehicles from the road in one year, (based on an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 vouchers issued per year).
- Reduce nitrogen oxides, which cause ground-level ozone (a leading cause of respiratory health problems, like asthma), by 3,043 short tons (2,761 metric tons) by 2013, (based on an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 vouchers issued per year).
The legislation is intended to help compliment the implementation of the new fuel economy law – authored by Senators Feinstein, Snowe and others – which would raise average fuel economy standards for America’s fleet of vehicles by at least 10 miles per gallon (mpg) over 10 years or from 25 mpg to at least 35 mpg by Model Year 2020.
Companion legislation is also being introduced today in the House by Representatives Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and Dennis Moore (D-Kansas).
How the legislation would work:
Eligible drivers would receive a reimbursement voucher for the purchase of a new or used vehicle with a fuel economy rating that exceeds the CAFE target for that class of vehicle by at least 25 percent. The bill also requires that the voucher be used towards the purchase of a vehicle that has an MSRP of less than $45,000, is model year 2004 or later, and meets or exceeds federal emissions standards. Vouchers could also be redeemed for transit fares for participating local public transportation agencies.
Drivers who apply for the program must ensure that their vehicles turned in for scrapping match the following criteria:
- Vehicles must be in drivable condition;
- Be currently registered in the U.S.; and
- Have a when-new fuel economy rating of less than 18 miles per gallon (as reported by the original manufacturer for purposes of CAFE compliance).
The bill specifies that during the first year of the program, vouchers will be issued for the following amounts:
- For traded-in vehicles that are model year 2002 and later, drivers would receive a voucher for:
- The purchase of a new vehicle: $4,500
- The purchase of a used vehicle: $3,000
- Transit fare credit: $3,000
- For traded-in vehicles that are model year 1999 – 2001, drivers would receive a voucher for:
- The purchase of a new vehicle: $3,000
- The purchase of a used vehicle: $2,000
- Transit fare credit: $2,000
- For traded-in vehicles that are model year 1998 and earlier, drivers would receive a voucher for:
- The purchase of a new vehicle: $2,000
- The purchase of a used vehicle: $1,500
- Transit fare credit: $1,500
In each subsequent year (2010, 2011, and 2012), the model years would be advanced by one year. Vouchers would be eligible for redemption for up to two years after the date of issuance, and no individual would be eligible to obtain more than one voucher in any three-year period. Dealers, dismantlers and scrap recycling facilities would also be eligible for a payment of $50 per vehicle, or an alternative amount to be specified by the Department of Energy.