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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The latest "green" vehicle: the Ford F-150 pickup

Handing out tax money to get people to buy cars was nothing more than robbing from our children to postpone the inevitable for the auto industry. But it was easy to sell: just make it a "green" program. Conserving energy! Stopping global warming! Saving the polar bears! And the flock of sheep we've become as a nation says, "Baaaaaa."

Not only did "cash for clunkers" enable gas-guzzler motorists to buy new gas guzzlers, but the program was also rife with fraud. Much like the first-time homebuyer handouts, which are now going to be made permanent and extended to existing homeowners who want a new house. Just keep printing dollars, America. Party on.

Comments (17)

While I share the contempt for the way the cash for clunkers was organized from top to bottom, I don't get how a program that expressly disregarded every environmentalists' objections can be said to have been sold as "green."

It was always relentlessly sold as a way to boost the car makers. Hence the absence of any meaningful mileage improvement requirements (which would have just about wiped out US auto maker participation).

The Ds and the Rs loved the program because it was a way to funnel money from the public purse to auto dealers and the UAW. Anyone who objected to the obvious insanity of force-feeding the car-replacement cycle with the existing fleet (while having just made a big noise about raising CAFE standards) was told that they didn't understand that the program was not about the environment but jobs.

"Good for the environment" was always a major part of the sales pitch. And it was effective.

George is right. It was never about saving the environment. It was about saving the U.S. auto industry and related economies from cataclysmic collapses (for the time being). Detroit suits (and their financiers) -- not the green-beanied hush-puppiers in D.C. -- wanted those engines cemented and vehicles crushed, so those vehicles would not continue to circulate competitively in commerce. This is no shock. Besides, there aren't enough Priuses to go around as it is. Many small businesses in the U.S. now and for the foreseeable future (esp. getting the economy up again) rely on pick-ups and vans to git 'er done. What? You expect your roofer or electrician to peddle up on a bike, haulin' 400 lbs. of tools and equipment in a li'l bubble-topped wagon? C'mon now!

Lighten up, McGraw.

It was never about saving the environment.

It was sold as being partly about that. Truthfully or not.

There was a strong environmental element:

And I became very aware round midsummer on how the number of new Pick 'Em Up Trucks on the road increased. Especially the extended cabs and four doors. Big and shiny! Never seen so many before. Frankly, I wish I could have afforded one as I need to transport equipment often, and it's cheaper for me to haul my own brush and recyclables and trash to Grimm's and one of the transfer stations, etc.

Lifer, your link proves my point, not yours. Quoting your link:

"Q: Sounds like a sure thing.

A: Not so. Environmental lobbyists, who don't think it boosts fuel economy enough, might derail it or get it changed enough in the Senate that a compromise would take awhile."

Bicyclists opposed it on enviro grounds:

Even the Junk Man himself, Steven Milloy has a post on why enviros OPPOSED the stupid thing:

Would it be better to allow how many more millions of people from the auto industry as well as those secondary industries that supply the auto manufacturers to become unemployed? We already have a huge problem of where are the current unemployed going to find jobs.. When people/families don't have money, the do whatever is necessary to get by. Sometimes they even resort to stealing. Why do you think many of the retail stores have beefed up their security? Just think what adding millions more to the unemployed would do? Either way, the govt is going to have to provide benefits either with unemployment or cash to their industries. Would you rather have the alternative scenario I presented?

Without the easy credit that was fueling our most recent debt based economy, how are people going to be called to back to work if the masses don't have the cash to buy stuff, which in turn causes employers to rehire people?

Granted, the cash for clunkers program may just be a bandaid, but it did buy time? Where are the jobs going to come from? And I mean jobs that pay enough for people to buy "stuff" that will fuel a robust economy and cause what remaining employers there are in the USA to hire again?

As far as the $8000 tax credit being extended, why not? Do you want homes in your neighborhood with lawns comprised of 3 foot high weeds as well as the vandalism that usually accompanies such decay? Think about how that will affect the livability and safety of your neighborhood? Let alone the value of your adjoining properties. And from what Ive heard about many of these foreclosed homes, they have to be cash deals as banks won't loan on them. How many people have cash to buy them?

When we look around Portland, things appear to be OK on the surface even though unemployment is high, but what about all those other towns and cities with homes sitting vacant and people with no jobs let alone cash to buy them?

It's a mess out there and going to get worse. Hell, we can't even get all of congress to agree that affordable healthcare should be the norm. That's a no brainer. How are these elected officials going to agree on something as complex as saving our country when all they can think of is what corporation can they pander to, to get funds for their next election? And then who do you think the politicians are going to error in favor of?

Any suggestions are welcome. But the problem is systemic, like a cancer.

C'mon, its a 1-3 mpg improvement. I guess the new trucks have better pollution controls.

The troubling issue is how every problem is just another bucket of money. It will be ugly when the economy picks up and interest rates go thru the roof.

I agree, George.

My comment was meant to imply that there was a strong environmental element associated with it that became part of the idea for a lot of us, who later realized that it was a pretty good marketing technique to lure additional stimulation of the industry. This morning I asked my wife what she thought the main point of the program was and she said, "To stimulate the auto industry." So apparently the suggestion that people would trade "klunkers" (implying gas-guzzlers), for fuel-efficient vehicles didn't get through to her like it did for me. I'm only saying there was something for everyone. And as Robert Pace points out, that's a good thing.

And I still wish I'd been able to afford to trade up for a truck.

Cash for Clunkers was an economic stimulus program, nothing more. The federal government even called it that.

The "environmental" part was a "hope" of the program, not a guaranteed result. In other words, program writers "hoped" people might take the opportunity to buy a more fuel efficient car. Anything more than that was created in people's imaginations.

In other words, the program clearly and unequivocally incented people to spend money. There was no incentive to do something for the environment. None.

Given all that, I'm puzzled by folks acting surprised by the lack of positive environmental impact--especially those buying new cars.

There is a reason why people traded in old pickups for newer and bigger ones. They wanted to buy them instead of a Prius or a Fit. It's easy to criticize domestic automakers for being late to the party with fuel efficient, affordable, and reliable passenger vehicles, and rightfully so. But car buyers with kids and kids' friends to haul around need more space than a single person or a couple. The previous run up in gas prices made a Ford F150 Supercrew or similarly outsized rigs relatively cheap to buy.

Well, I would have had a minimum mileage standard for the new car, left out the trucks and SUVs altogether, and would have tried a smaller credit.

I don't agree that you have to have a Suburban to carry kids around. Obviously there are relatively fuel-efficient minivans, and my 17 year old Volvo wagon (something of a gas-guzzler) can carry 7. But getting someone's daily driver from 14 to 17 mpg is a bigger deal than it might sound. All other things being equal they emit 20% less carbon.

Glass half full: According to the article, six-sevenths of the cars purchased got better than 20 mpg.

And the overall mileage improvement of the set of cars involved, from 15.8 to 24.9 mpg, means they will burn better than 35% less gas. If they were all 12,000 mile per year drivers (and we should all try to drive less), these cars would burn 188 million fewer gallons of gas next year. And the year after that.

I do regret if it reinforced some people's irresponsible inclinations (I really hope they get the credit back from the guy who bought a Hummer H3), but it doesn't sound like such a terrible result from a short-lived program that only turned over 0.5% of the US passenger fleet.

Gotta keep spending, even if the money is borrowed from the future! The only solution to a crisis born of over-borrowing, is more borrowing apparently. Going without is no option at all.

Have Baby Boomers ever said "no" to themselves in any significant way?

I can't wait to explain to my kids why they're going to be taxed at 45%. "It was so grandpa and grandma and their friends could have everthing they wanted without paying for it. And when the mess had to be cleaned up, you paid for that too!"

My Chevy Silverado extended cab four wheel drive truck has been getting 23 miles per gallon in the year I've owned it. About 16,000 miles. I didn't do the clunker program but I traded an avalanche that got about 16 mpg, so it's a pretty good improvement. The problem I have is that I can't get a volvo wagon into the places I need to drive to. My other car is a WRX that gets about the same mileage as the truck but is a lot more fun to drive.

Cash for Clunkers was green in the same way the Bush "Clear Skies Initiative" was green (although maybe it was a little greener) but you can't blame a government marketing strategy for a plan that gave away money (not a hard sell in and of itself) on environmentalists.

Well, maybe you can, Jack, but it's not a particularly honest argument.

Death panels!

23 mpg for a Silverado x-cab 4x4? With or without modifications? Even assuming all highway miles, that's impressive.

Regarding the Home Buyer Credit - has this really morphed into the "Home Owner's Credit"? $6,500 for owning my home for 5 plus years? That's about 10% of what I paid for it twenty years ago. Who'd thought!!


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