SEMA Opposes Federal "Cash for Clunkers" Program - aftermarketNews

SEMA Opposes Federal “Cash for Clunkers” Program

Program is currently being considered for inclusion in economic stimulus package.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has issued a statement that it is actively opposing an effort by some Congressional lawmakers to include a nationwide “Cash for Clunkers” program in the economic stimulus package currently being considered in Washington.

In its statement SEMA said Cash for Clunkers would use taxpayer dollars to purchase and crush older vehicles into blocks of scrap metal, while there is no evidence that the program will achieve the goal of boosting new car sales. Many states have considered these programs in the past as a way to help clean the air but abandoned the effort because they simply don’t work. The programs are not cost-effective and do not achieve verifiable air quality or fuel economy benefits, according to SEMA.

“In fact, states are currently prohibited from using federal funds for Cash for Clunker programs under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ),” said Steve McDonald, SEMA’s vice president of government affairs. “The reasons are simple. Regulators have focused on a vehicle’s age rather than the emissions the vehicle produces, based on the erroneous perception that all older cars are dirty cars. These clunker programs do not bother to measure the real emissions of the vehicles involved. Rather, the programs ‘estimate’ emissions reductions using numbers that are significantly overstated.”

SEMA said another shortcoming is that clunker programs rarely capture the “gross polluter,” an improperly maintained vehicle of any model year, which puts out dramatically more emissions due to poor maintenance. Those seeking a quick fix through vehicle clunker programs ignore this reality.

SEMA believes "clunker" programs, even on a voluntary basis, further diminish the availability of affordable transportation and repair parts to low-income drivers as more and more older cars are crushed. They do not guarantee that low-income individuals will be able to afford to purchase new vehicles, let alone more fuel efficient or cleaner vehicles, with the money provided by clunker programs. Clunker programs also undermine the used car donation programs of charitable organizations such as Melwood Industries, Salvation Army and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

“Rather, auto restoration, customization and repair shops nationwide would suffer with the loss of older cars, trucks and parts they need to supply and service their customers,” McDonald added. “An unchecked Cash for Clunkers program risks destroying classic, historic and special-interest vehicles. America safeguards its artistic and architectural heritage against indiscriminate destruction. Our automotive and industrial heritage deserves the same protection.”

In lieu of clunker programs, SEMA has recommended that Congress work with the states on programs that identify gross polluters and upgrade them with equipment that improves their emissions performance dramatically. These benefits are measured and cost-effective in reducing emissions, SEMA says. Adapting newer technologies to older vehicles benefits the vehicle owner and brings business to auto dealers and repair shops repairing gross polluting vehicles, which in turn will improve air quality. A number of commercially available products and technologies exist which could substantially lower the emission rates of older vehicles while also offering the owner added performance, drivability and fuel mileage. According to SEMA, these innovative solutions drive product sales, produce American jobs and secure tax revenues for the government all while sustaining the multi-billion dollar vehicle restoration industry.

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