Old Car Scrappage Incentive Scheme Announced in UK


Photo: Flickr, CC
10 Years Old and Older Cars = £2,000
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling announced in a budget statement that the UK will start an incentive scheme to encourage people with vehicles older than 10 years to scrap them. "Average new car CO2 emissions in the UK have dropped 16% over the last ten years. The number of cars in the UK vehicle parc over ten years old to the end of 2008 is 9,528,582 and the number of light commercial vehicles is 993,731." Older vehicles also tend to have worse smog-forming emissions, partly because the regulations weren't as strict a decade ago, and partly because pollution controls can fail with time.The known details of the scheme are:

  • A total of £2,000 (US$2,900) will be offered in a "cash-for-scrap" scheme for 10-year-old, or older, cars.
  • The £2,000 saving will be made up of £1,000 from the government and £1,000 from the relevant car manufacturer.
  • Participation in the scrappage scheme by specific car manufacturers is voluntary.
  • The funding will be made up of £300 million (US$439 million) from the government—a figure that will be matched by manufacturers participating in the scheme.
  • The scheme is expected to be introduced in mid-May.
  • The scheme will run until the start of March 2010, or until all of the government funding has been used.
  • The discount will be offered to consumers buying a new vehicle to replace a vehicle which they have owned for more than twelve months.
  • Eligible vehicles must have been first registered in the UK on or before 31 July 1999 and have a current MOT test certificate.
  • Scrappage savings apply to commercial vans (up to 3.5 tonnes) as well as cars.
  • The scheme will be audited by the DVLA.
  • Scrappage trade-ins can only be made against new cars.
Isn't It Better to Keep Your Old Car on the Road As Long as Possible? Sometimes, but not necessarily. Various life cycle analysis studies agree that the vast majority of the footprint of a vehicle comes from the fuel it burns over its life. Manufacturing it accounts for about 1/5 to 1/10 (depending, there are lots of factors), and a large portion of scrapped cars are recycled.

A scheme like this can be particularly useful if the vehicles that are scrapped are gas guzzlers, and if they are replaced by much more efficient models. Keeping a large gas guzzler around on the roads for an extra 10 years can generate a lot of pollution, but also make roads less safe as the vehicle's mechanical condition deteriorates.

More Data Needed to Be Sure
I'd certainly like to see more numbers on the projected impact of this scheme to be sure that it is a good thing, but on the face of it, it could reduce emissions in urban areas, reduce CO2 emissions, and potentially make roads somewhat safer. Nothing groundbreaking, but possibly a step in the right direction.

What would make the scheme even greener would be to attach some fuel economy numbers to it, so that the incentive is bigger for gas guzzlers, and smaller for gas sippers. Or even a bigger amount if someone scraps a car and doesn't buy a new one (though how can you verify that?). That would certainly be a better us of the program's budget.

Via Green Car Congress
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