The Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) has gained substantial attention after it managed to burn through its $1 billion budget in roughly a week. The budget for this rebate stimulus program was intended to last until November, but obviously, many people took advantage of the deal. The program allows people to cash in by turning over their old cars to dealerships for dismantling in exchange for a rebate of up to $4,500 on a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Congress had approved an additional $2 billion to keep the program in motion, but nothing was set in stone until the Senate acquiesced to the plan for an increased budget last week.
According to Santa Barbara car dealerships, if the goal is to stimulate the economy while reducing emissions, then Cash for Clunkers is exceeding all expectations. “People that weren’t even thinking about trading in their old cars are now taking a second look,” said Richard Graham, owner of Graham Chevrolet. “And the good news is that everyone is buying economy cars.” According to several dealerships, the sale of more economic vehicles has gone up drastically since the implication of the CARS plan, with some dealers claiming that they have sold more than double the number of vehicles per day than before Cash for Clunkers went into effect.
Some critics doubt the potential economic boost of the plan, arguing that those who are cashing in on the program would have bought a car in the near future anyway, and that this will simply mean fewer sales down the road. The environmental advantages, however, are hard to deny. For this reason, Michael Chiacos, the Community Environmental Council’s transportation specialist, remains optimistic. “The Community Environmental Council works to reduce our region’s dependency on fossil fuels,” Chiacos said. “Our hope is that this incentive will help Santa Barbara drivers choose the most fuel-efficient vehicles.”