Thursday, July 2, 2009

Car Allowance Rebate System idiocy

Time for my first Bone to Pick.  This one isn't huge, but it's more than a Nitpick, so it gets to start off the new category.  

What is the Car Allowance Rebate System (beyond one of the less awkward but still silly government backronyms)?  It is a plan pushed through by Obama to incentivize purchasing of more fuel efficient cars.  I'm not exactly sure where the money for it is coming from, but assuming funding is available, it seems like a pretty sweet plan.  It stimulates the ailing car market (which we all own stock in, so yay for stimulation), promotes and raises awareness of fuel efficiency in cars, and even helps to just generally make everyone happier.  Not too shabby.  You can read more about the details at

So, where's my complaint?  The basic plan goes like this: you trade in your old vehicle and buy or lease a new one with better gas mileage, and the government gives you an instant rebate of $3500 to $4500, which is pretty awesome.  I'm looking to get rid of a '99 Ford Taurus with a busted air conditioner and blah gas mileage.  In order to be eligible, the new car must cost less than $45,000 and have a mileage increase of at least 4 mpg.  Damn, no Denali.  I guess I can settle.  Honestly, we were pondering a new Prius, with an EPA estimated 46 mpg.  The old car must be in working order, less than 25 years old, and have an EPA estimated combined mileage of 18 mpg or less.  

Cool.  Check.  Check.  And...shit.  Ford Taurus: EPA mileage of 19 mpg.  Are you freaking kidding me?  So yeah, I'm ticked off because this hurts me personally, but it also led me to think about the implications.  The government would rather you trade in your 18 mpg car for a 22 mpg car (increase of 22%), than trade in a 19 mpg car for a 46 mpg car (increase of 142%)?  That's absolutely ridiculous.  Something like: "must be at least 4 mpg increase, or for cars over 20 mpg must increase by at least 30%" would have made a lot of sense and had much farther reaching benefits.  But no, apparently we're only aiming to get rid of the worst of the worst and don't care about trying to really push everyone to really improve their mileage.   

Perhaps it's an effect of having limited cash.  Perhaps they just had enough money to be able to focus on the worst offenders, and I suppose that makes sense.  But geez - I was all excited about going full-on green (well, just shy of a sparkly new Tesla Model S), but because Ford made my car just efficient enough I'm out about $4000.  Nice.

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