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SEMA Action Network Alerts

SEMA Challenges Claims That Cash for Clunkers Will Clean Environment

SEMA is disputing claims that vehicle scrappage programs will clean the air or reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil. SEMA contends that these misdirected programs do more environmental harm than good, and deny cash incentives to millions of Americans who want to buy a new car.

The scrappage debate was recently revived when President Obama endorsed scrappage as part of an overall strategy to help rebuild the U.S. auto industry.

Scrappage programs accelerate the demise of older vehicles which are then typically crushed into blocks of metal. These “Cash for Clunkers” programs focus on a car's age or fuel-efficiency rating rather than its actual emissions or how much it is driven.

SEMA argues that the environmental claims made by some congressional lawmakers do not withstand scrutiny. Given the low value of the cash vouchers being offered to consumers to purchase a new vehicle (generally ranging from $2,000–$5,000), the facts demonstrate that vehicles traded-in for demolition could include late-model vehicles that have been damaged in accidents or have mechanical problems. The programs would also collect rarely driven second and third vehicles.

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California Emissions Tests Changes Proposed

A.B. 859 ignores the minimal impact vintage cars have on air quality.

A.B. 859 could entice vintage car owners into allowing these vehicles to be scrapped.

A.B. 859 ignores the fact that vehicles 15-years old and older still constitute a small portion of the overall vehicle population and are a poor source from which to look for emissions reduction.

A.B. 859 ignores the fact that classic vehicles are overwhelmingly well-maintained and infrequently driven.

A.B. 859 would increase costs by creating an annual inspection fee for owners of these vehicles.

A.B. 859 represents another attempt by California legislators and regulators to scapegoat older cars.

Please contact members of the California Assembly Transportation Committee immediately by phone to request their opposition to A.B. 859.   

Assembly Transportation Committee

Assemblymember Mike Eng – Chair
Phone: 916/319-2049

Assemblymember Kevin Jeffries
Phone: 916/319-2066

Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield
Phone: 916/319-2040

Assemblymember Joan Buchanan
Phone: 916/319-2015

Assemblymember Connie Conway
Phone: 916/319-2034

Assemblymember Warren Furutani
Phone: 916/319-2055

Assemblymember Cathleen Galgiani
Phone: 916/319-2017

Assemblymember Martin Garrick
Phone: 916/319-2074

Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal
Phone: 916/319-2054

Assemblymember Jeff Miller
Phone: 916/319-2071

Assemblymember Roger Niello
Phone: 916/319-2005

Assemblymember John Perez
Phone: 916/319-2046

Assemblymember Jose Solorio
Phone: 916/319-2069

Assemblymember Tom Torlakson
Phone: 916/319-2011

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Feds Establish New Fuel-Economy Standards for Model Year 2011

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) raised the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for model year 2011 vehicles by about 2 miles per gallon (mpg) above the 2010 standards. The NHTSA will use an attribute-based system, which sets CAFE standards for individual fleets of vehicles based on size, taking into account the differences between cars and light trucks (SUVs, pickups and vans).

The industry-wide combined car/truck standard will be 27.3 mpg, based on a 30.2-mpg car standard (up from 27.5 mpg) and 24.1-mpg light-truck standard (up from 23.1 mpg).

Individual car companies have flexibility on how to achieve the rules, whether placing more emphasis on hybrids or reducing vehicle size and weight. Nevertheless, a standard based on each vehicle’s footprint should force automakers to increase the efficiency of every vehicle rather than downsizing some vehicles in order to offset the sale of bigger cars.

By establishing an industry-wide standard with proportional targets, the rule takes into account differing vehicle demographics for individual automakers.

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Automakers and dealers need to sell cars in order to survive, but potential buyers have hit the brakes in these tough economic times. Scrappage programs actually would deny vouchers to the majority of people who may want to buy a new car but don’t have an eligible older car to trade. Instead, these programs will be misused by those who own two or three older cars and seek to take advantage of the taxpayer give-away. Many of these cars aren’t frequently driven, if at all, so destroying them will not clean the nation’s air or make us less dependent on foreign oil.

While supporters tout a similar German program as evidence of success, the European Federation for Transport and the Environment, (the pan-European federation of environmental groups), has urged Germany and other countries to abandon scrappage subsidies because they do more environmental harm than good by artificially accelerating the car life cycle.

Scrappage programs hurt thousands of independent repair shops, auto restorers, customizers and their customers across the country. This industry provides thousands of American jobs and generates millions of dollars in local, state and federal tax revenues. We encourage the President to help the entire auto industry with programs that focus the incentive where it counts – on the purchase of new vehicles and not destroying older cars.


SEMA represents the $38.1 billion specialty automotive industry. Founded in 1963, the trade association has 7,358 member companies. It is the authoritative source of research data, trends and market growth information for automakers and the specialty auto products industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger cars, minivans, trucks, SUVs, crossovers and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA, 91765-3914; call 909/396-0289; or visit www.sema.org or www.enjoythedrive.com.


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Another “Cash for Clunkers” Bill Introduced in Congress

Congressional lawmakers are once again considering legislation to create a nationwide "Cash for Clunkers" program. The latest bill (H.R. 1550) is entitled the “Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act” (CARS Act) and was introduced on March 17, 2009 by Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio).

If enacted into law, the legislation would provide consumers with vouchers worth from $3,000–$5,000 to buy a new car if they scrap a vehicle that is at least eight years old. The new car must have a sticker price less than $35,000 and meet certain fuel economy and emissions ratings. The program would run for calendar years 2009 and 2010. After that, for model years 2011–2016, consumers could get $7,500 vouchers to purchase electric vehicles.

Under the bill, qualification criteria would differ between new vehicles assembled in the United States and vehicles assembled in Canada and Mexico, with the latter held to a higher MPG rating to qualify for the same or lower subsidy. The program would not apply to new vehicles built outside of North America.

Toyota North America and other foreign-based automakers have spoken out against the discriminatory treatment in the legislation.

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