Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
U.S. DOT

As “Cash for Clunkers” Sputters, a Privately Funded Spinoff Picks Up

The U.S. DOT began signaling yesterday that it would bring the "cash for clunkers" program to an end amid growing unease from auto dealers about the government's slow pace of reimbursement and General Motors' decision to begin fronting "clunkers" repayments to its own salesmen.

But with auto-industry forecasters predicting a cool 1 million new sales this month for the first time in a year, dealers are loath to abandon the "clunkers" concept that has stoked Americans' desire for new vehicles -- with minor fuel-efficiency gains and expensive environmental payoffs.

A group of auto retailers have begun promoting the "Auto Stimulus Plan," a rebate system paid for by dealers themselves.

The private "clunkers" spinoff offers several features that the government plan was criticized for lacking. It allows consumers to buy used cars, and its rebates are tiered in proportion to the level of fuel-efficiency improvement that is achieved by the trade-in.

The specifics of the Auto Stimulus Plan vary based on state regulations. But a trade-in that provides 2 miles per gallon in greater fuel-efficiency would earn a rebate of 10 percent of the older car's value, and a 5-mpg improvement would earn a 20 percent rebate, according to a recent Associated Press report.

Unlike the Obama administration's "clunkers" program, which was questionably touted by the president and his allies as a boon for the environment, dealers involved in the private version make no bones about their priorities.

"[O]ur primary goal is to help consumers that don't qualify for the government's program and to stimulate the economy through improved sales, jobs, and spending," Scott Gruwell, an Arizona-based GM dealer, said in a statement today announcing that the Auto Stimulus Plan would continue despite the demise of the "clunkers" plan.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Justice Dept., Citing Streetsblog Reporting, Threatens to Sue NYPD Over Cops’ Sidewalk Parking

The city is now facing a major civil rights suit from the Biden Administration if it doesn't eliminate illegal parking by cops and other city workers.

April 19, 2024

What to Say When Someone Claims ‘No One Bikes or Walks in Bad Weather’

Yes, sustainable modes are more vulnerable to bad weather. But that's why we should invest more in them — not less.

April 19, 2024

NYC Transit’s New Operations Planning Chief Wants To Fight ‘Ghost Buses’

One-time transit advocate and current MTA Paratransit VP Chris Pangilinan will oversee bus and subway operations for the whole city.

April 19, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Gimme Bus Shelter Edition

The days of the Landmarks Preservation Commission reviewing every proposed bus shelter in landmarked districts may be no more. Plus more news.

April 19, 2024

Deal Reached: Hochul Says ‘Sammy’s Law’ Will Pass

The bill, though imperfect, has been four years in the making.

April 18, 2024
See all posts