The new government program Cars, formerly known as Cash for Clunkers, aims to help improve fuel economy in the nation by giving a discount to those who trade in a gas guzzling car for a more fuel efficient model. The program, currently set to run through November 1, 2009, will give a $3,500 or $4,500 credit to any person who meets the requirements and buys a new car that is fuel efficient. The program is aimed at older cars that get 18 miles to the gallon or less.
The program is certainly a step in the right direction and shows the nation is beginning to heed the warnings about pollution and the unwanted effects of our current poor state of fuel economy. Whether the program works or not, however, depends on a number of factors. The public must be aware that this opportunity exists, and must also meet the requirements to trade in their car. Interested consumers may not have a car that has a poor enough gas mileage rating to warrant a new car, or may not be able to afford a new car even with the several thousand dollar discount.
There are also concerns that the program may take older used cars still in good condition off the market for those who need them. Any car that is traded in as part of the program will be turned into scrap, and the scrap value earned will be paid to the customer. It is one way to get rid of those gas guzzlers once and for all, but it also cheats someone who may not have a lot to spend on a car out of a good deal.
Overall, the program will most likely be effective in a small portion of the population. Those who have older cars and can afford a new car will find themselves in luck. Since only new cars may be purchased on this credit, it will severely limit who purchases a more fuel efficient vehicle. If a customer has the money for a new car, what are the chances they've been driving an older, less efficient car, or that they're willing to trade it in and watch it turn to a hunk of scrap?
Some may benefit, but the numbers will not be large enough to have a dramatic effect on the nation's current driving habits. The idea is still refreshing, never-the-less. The government is stepping up to the plate to try and clean the nation up, and they have to start somewhere.
Raising awareness about the importance of good fuel economy could encourage those who do not take advantage of the program to find ways they can do their part, even if they don't purchase a new vehicle. After the Cars program has ended, perhaps the government will begin improving other areas of transportation as well, and start the country down a path where we can all depend less on cars and gas for mobility.