This was not the zombie apocalypse I was hoping for this October…
An absolute disaster some in the media tried spinning as a roaring success, Cash For Clunkers did untold damage to the automotive market for some short-sighted gain. The one thing I’ve learned to count on is politicians not learning their lesson the first time around since they’re probably not honest with themselves about their shortcomings. That’s one possible explanation for the emergence of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s new Clean Cars for All program.
Learn why Cash For Clunkers was an absolute train wreck here.
If you don’t live in the Bay Area, you probably haven’t heard of this, so allow me to get you up to speed. People who live in “targeted” ZIP codes and who meet certain income requirements can get between $5,500 and $9,500 for buying a new or used plug-in electric or hydrogen vehicle. To get that cash, these people have to turn in a car that’s from the 2005 model year or earlier, since we all know old cars are dirty, dirty, dirty.
That’s right, this is yet another government program to prop up the electric vehicle market. For the past decade-plus I’ve heard how EVs will take over the car market by X date. The predicted date of that huge shift in the market has come and gone several times, yet EVs still make up a tiny sliver of the market. Programs like these will likely make little difference.
This program also ignores a simple fact: manufacturing vehicles, whether it’s a traditional car with an internal combustion engine or an EV, results in a lot of emissions. It just so happens that electric vehicles’ manufacturing emits a ton of emissions, an inconvenient fact for those who want to act like they’re emissions-free transportation.
Another inconvenient truth is that most people get their electricity through the burning of fossil fuels. Some like me have the unique benefit of getting our electricity from a nuclear power plant, so using an EV in that situation would make it an emissions-free way to refuel. However, if your electricity is provided at least in part through the burning of coal, the generation method produces more particulates than burning gasoline.
What’s more, these government incentive programs not only artificially inflate the demand for products most people wouldn’t normally select, they’re often rife with fraud. I’ve heard many stories of dealerships and others abusing the Cash For Clunkers program. Whenever government money is flowing freely, you can bet those who want to take advantage unethically gather.
Apparently, this program was first launched in the Bay Area back in 2019 but quickly ran out of funding. With another $8.3 million injected people are clamoring to get their something for nothing. But will this really improve how people get around? That’s the true question few in the media seem to even want to ask.