Anyone remember their Cash for Clunkers experience in MA?


#1

I’m an MIT student doing some research on the economic impact of the Cash For Clunkers Program (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_Allowance_Rebate_System).

Does anyone who did a Cash for Clunkers transaction remember if the dealership pushed new plates on you or if the standard thing to do was keep your old plates? I’m interested in Mass specifically but experiences from any state about the trade in experience would be interesting.

The reason I’m asking is because I have data of all Massachusetts vehicle registrations from 2008-2011 but it is anonymized so I can only identify people by a number corresponding to license plates. I want to track Cash for Clunkers (and other) trade-ins by observing a plate switching VINs but if a lot of people were getting new plates then this isn’t going to work very well.

Thanks in advance! I’m curious to hear what people remember from their dealership experiences in the summer of 2009, and especially about plates. I was driving a 1994 Volvo 940 turbo wagon at the time but I was too poor and loved it to much to jump on the program.


#2

I don’t think you’ll find what you’re looking for here. The regulars here are too smart to give up a good running vehicle to be needlessly destroyed in exchange for car payments. Even with a government incentive, keeping what you have is usually the wiser economic decision. C4C was really only good for people who were already in the market for a car.


#3

C4C was pretty much an unmitigated disaster. Taking all those old vehicles off the road drove up prices on the used car market. This means that people without much money now have to settle for an even crappier car than they would have had in the first place. Some of the prices I’m still seeing on the used market are just freaking insane.

And then, it put the squeeze on the parts market, because they crushed the rolling chassis and destroyed the engines. So if I was smart and kept my old car rather than taking on a new car payment, now I have trouble finding replacement body panels and engine internals.

This was a good example of a program that had the best intentions, and very unfortunate unintended consequences.


#4

I’m curious why you think, from the point of view of the C4C program,making hard to get pats for cars that it considers to have poor gas mileage would be a “very unfortunate unintended” consequence? It seems like a win-win for the program to me. They wanted to get cars with poor gas mileage off the road, so they provided incentive to get a bunch destroyed, and then made it harder to keep the ones that weren’t traded in running.


#5

The problem with C4C is that getting those poor mileage cars off the road just flat did not work as many of those cars that were scrapped did not get poor fuel mileage and were by no stretch of the imagination could they be considered clunkers. The word clunker is a misnomer…

My Lincoln Mark is considered a gas hog. Several nice, low miles Marks were traded in and scrapped under C4C.
Those cars routinely get 27-28 on the highway and in the right situation can hit 30 or more.
Hardly the sign of a gas hog…

The local news did a story on a guy who took advantage of the C4C. They showed him driving proudly off in a new Impala after trading in a mid 2000s Dodge Intrepid that appeared to be a nice car.
So what was accomplished here? Absolutely zero, zilch, nada other than the guy acquiring a new set of car payments. Fuel mileage on the car he bought vs the one he traded is a wash.


#6

@CRBasinJr‌

Does anyone who did a Cash for Clunkers transaction remember if the dealership pushed new
plates on you or if the standard thing to do was keep your old plates?

The handling of plates was independent of C2C. Those participating in C2C could either keep their old plates or get new plates. There was no “C2C” incentive for pushing new plates.


#7

Another issue I have with C4C is that I ignores the environmental impact of increasing demand for new cars. Making and transporting a new car creates significant pollution. Trading in a car earlier than you would have otherwise is bad for the environment if you’re buying new. I’d also like to know how much pollution was created by draining the oil out of the so called “clunkers,” filling the engines with kerosine, and running them until the engines seized.


#8

@Whitey The total life cycle energy consumption by an automobile is approximately 12-15% used in the manufacture of the vehicle. The other 85% goes to operation and disposal. Clearly, a 15 mpg car that’s 10 years old and junked (recycled) and replaced with a 30 mpg vehicle is a positive move.

Unfortunately, many trashed cars were replaced by vehicles only slightly more fuel effcient. The real move was to stimulate the economy and iudustry, like the Japanese have been doing for years. There, any car 10 years old, regardless of mileage or condition, needs a list of parts replaced as long as your arm. As a result these cars are exported for very little to Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Ireland and other right hand drive countries.


#9

I know a guy who actually wanted to take advantage of C4C, but couldn’t

He drove an old full size american truck, with a big block, a definite gas guzzler

However, his truck for some reason fell through the cracks. Even though it was about 20 years old at the time, it wasn’t “on the list” and therefore didn’t qualify

What a crock . . . you have a guy who drives an old domestic gas guzzler, and the program failed him

He was understandably upset


#10

We were kicking ourselves that we couldn’t take advantage of C4C the weekend we took delivery of our new Prius, the program was on hold at that time and we didn’t even think about using old minivan (which we couldn’t in good conscience sell to anyone other than to be scrapped) ended selling the old van to the salvage yard a few years later.


#11
I'm curious why you think, from the point of view of the C4C program,making hard to get pats for cars that it considers to have poor gas mileage would be a "very unfortunate unintended" consequence?
Um, perhaps because it was, either by intent or incompetence, horribly regressive by design? To wit, IF one was rich enough to be able to afford a new car, it was a nifty handout, BUT if one isn't so situated, it increases the costs of keeping the old heap on the road, by decreasing the supply of used parts (supply and demand, this is basic ECON 101 stuff).

I mean, if the only thing you care about is CAFE, then say it…but if you care at all about the working class in this country, then YES, it is indeed a “very unfortunate unintended consequence!” Note that they discussed allowing credits for buying USED cars with better FE, but decided against it, which (IMO) is very anti-worker.

It seems like a win-win for the program to me.

And I do believe I have determined your socio-economic status…and I can say, with 95% certainty, that if you have callouses upon your hands, your did not get them via your wage-earning activities.

Now, @Seraph, I am trying my utmost to be civil, and leave my strong personal beliefs out of this…but purely as a tactical observation, the “green” agenda has become far more anti-labor in the last half-dozen years or so. (It was not always thus…it used to be assumed that, if you were poor, you did not have the fiscal means to consume many resources, and were thus “green” by default.)

Now, this becomes a “sticky wicket” when you have two viable political parties in the US, and the same party claims to represent the interests of both the blue (collar)s and the greens! Far be it from me to opine (against forum rules) on where to prioritize labor interests vs eco interests…but as a pragmatist, it is tactically poor for the greens to make it too rough for the blues, lest the blues make it rough on the greens! (Especially true whenever PA is in play…cough, cough 2016, cough…)


#12

I’d suggest that rather than trying to track down actual participants, which will be a serious chore for a civilian due to privacy concerns, you look at the impact by compiling and graphing things like used car prices, volume of C4C transactions, comparative data (like perhaps mpg) of the cars scrapped vs. the cars they were replaced with, and other types of publically available information. You can graph them and, if you can make a powerful enough statistical argument, identify cause & effect relationships.

By every metric of every study I’ve read on the subjects, and there were a lot of them, the C4C program was an unmitigated disaster. I would argue that it was a success, because I believe its true goal was to garner votes from those in the automotive community, and since he got reelected… Yeah, I know, my theory is unsupported, and perhaps unsupportable, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…


#13

I agree it was the first disaster of many. My Riviera with 500,000 miles on it didn’t qualify either because the mileage was too good. I’m wondering how one is able to get names and addresses of people though from the license plates. In Minnesota this is private information given only to law enforcement with a legitimate need. Law enforcement withouth a legitimate need pay a hefty fine per transaction and usually lose their job.


#14

I also suspect that the OP’s profs will be far more impressed with hard data analysis than with verbal feedback from those who accessed the program.


#15

To me, the cash-for-destroying-perfectly-good-cars program was even sillier than the idea that ALS can be cured by people pouring ice water over their heads.


#16

Yup, a total, absolute, complete waste of over $3billion of our tax dollars. Unless, of course, you look at it from the goal of getting votes…

And, yet, nobody seems to remember. It’s as if it never happened. Go figure. The power of a biased media is amazing.


#17

I’m not sure that the C4C program was meant to generate votes. I do think it was meant to kick start the auto industry more than improve the US automotive fleet fuel conomy. It also could have reduced the risk of the loans the US Treasury gave to GM and Chrysler. Again, I think that was a side benefit. I do agree that it was a failed program. On the other hand, at least they tried something. And while $3 billion seems like a lot of money to us, it isn’t as large when compared to the annual budget for the US Government. All failures are magnified when a large organization has problems. Look at the giant recalls from GM and Toyota in recent years. If that happened to a much smaller manufacturer like Suzuki, there would not have been nearly the uproar we had with the latter two.


#18

@mountainbike, for all you know, this might be for a class on qualitative research. Assume much?


#19

Along with other touchy-feely BS that accomplishes nothing, how quickly all of those kidnapped Nigerian school girls have been relegated to the back burner after a bunch of lemmings jumped on a hashtag campaign to solve the problem…


#20
@ok4450

Along with other touchy-feely BS that accomplishes nothing, how quickly all of those kidnapped Nigerian school girls have been relegated to the back burner after a bunch of lemmings jumped on a hashtag campaign to solve the problem…

Yes indeed, something of this magnitude can only be solved by a put-your-tongue-on-a-frozen-flagpole-and-post-it-on-Facebook challenge…

Or even better yet…