Hottest trend in autos? Dumping the old clunker

The federal government has over $800 million dollars left in its "cash for clunkers" purse. But already one Michigan Congressman is worried the money isn't enough.

The federal government has over $800 million dollars left in its "cash for clunkers" purse. But already one Michigan Congressman is worried the money isn't enough. This auto-booster wants more federal dollars. Ten percent of the cash for clunkers money has already been spent. Seems car buyers were waiting for such a price break. The current program expires on November 1, or when the money runs out. Bet it gets prolonged. There's sufficient evidence, or at least specific stories. More than $9000 off the list price? The clunker program has one of those fine official federal titles: Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009, or CARS. Here's the official CARS website. Basically it gives a new car buyer money if the buyer upgrades the MPG from the old to the new vehicle. There is a very low threshhold for new vehicles to qualify. New cars: 22 mpg. New SUVs and small or medium pickup trucks or vans: 18 mpg. New large vans and pickups: 15 mpg. Still, lots of those old V-8 and heavy SUVs are very fuel hungry. The old cars bought with the clunker rebates are supposed to be scrapped. Not to be resold. That hasn't pleased auto recyclers who make money selling parts for older cars. WHICH CLUNKERS? Some semi-official data already. Early CARS stats: the average clunker trade-in gets 17 miles per gallon and the average new vehicle gets 25. An 8 MPG step up. Over 70 percent of the clunkers are SUVs. 84 percent of the new vehicles are passenger cars. But Old Ford Explorer SUVs may be less common on the roads soon. They're high on clunker to junker list. And one dealer says 33 recent sales there show an 11 MPG increase from the clunker to the new replacement model. On the opposite coast: again the 11 MPG step up seems to be the average. [poll id="161"]

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