Several days of the well-known “Cash for Clunkers” program has seen more than 4,000 new vehicles purchased, with $35 million of the budgeted $1 billion already spent.
As some Americans begin to turn in their clunkers” for new, fuel-efficient vehicles, the Environmental Protection Agency has modified the eligibility of 164 vehicles that previously qualified for the program. Seventy-eight cars and trucks that initially were approved don’t qualify, while 86 vehicles that weren’t on the list now qualify.
Unless the government offers another extension, the program will end once the $1 billion is handed out. If all of the $1 billion isn’t used, however, the federal government will end the program on November 1. The program was designed specifically to help get gas guzzlers off the street, especially as fuel economy thresholds continue to get stricter for new vehicles.
More than 16,000 dealerships across the country have applied for the program, and that number is growing each day. Dealerships now are attempting to work with local junkyards to have the engines and transmissions removed before the clunker is sent on its death march.
Anyone interested must meet certain criteria to qualify: If a car is manufactured in 1984 or later and averages 18 mpg or less, a person qualifies for the program. The owner must have had the car registered and insured for at least 12 months and it has to start. A government voucher for $3,500 is given if the new car gets between 4-9 mpg more than the old car — a voucher for $4,500 is handed out if the car has 10 miles more per gallon.
“Unlike the previously available mileage data, which was solely intended to guide consumers’ vehicle purchases, more precise data is required by the new CARS legislation (to four decimal places),” according to an EPA report. “Of the 30,000 vehicle model types spanning 25 years, the result of converting to the more precise data needed for the CARS program meant that an additional 86 model types gained eligibility while 78 no longer qualify.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood believes there is enough money to offset the cost of 250,000 new vehicles.
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