Posts Tagged ‘fuel economy’

The summer of 2009 will, for me, be the Summer of Clunkers. The federal government’s “cash for clunkers” program, which allowed consumers to trade in an old gas-guzzling car for a somewhat less gas-guzzling replacement, had its problems. The paperwork required for dealers to receive reimbursements from the government was confusing, and deals were completed much more quickly than expected.

Almost no one seemed to understand exactly what the rules were. And buried in the 136 pages of those rules was a vague statement that entitled many consumers to more money than they got. (See p. 93 here). The Boston Globe quoted a spokesperson from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which ran the cash for clunkers program, as stating that after dealers took $50 to cover administrative costs, that the remainder of a vehicle’s scrap value was “negotiable between the consumer and the dealer.”

The scrap value is much less than the typical trade-in value of a vehicle. In exchange for the government subsidy of $3,500 or $4,500, consumers waived the routine trade-in process, but residual scrap value, depending on the age and condition of the vehicle could be several hundred dollars. Dealers were required to disclose the scrap value to consumers before completion of the deal.

Some dealers handed the residual scrap value over as a matter of course, but many did not. And deals were already complicated with quite a bit of confusion from consumers and dealers about how the trades were supposed to work. Public Citizen requested additional information about the program through a Freedom of Information Act request, but information about the scrap value was not disclosed, so we can’t make a guess at the total scrap value.

Lena Pons is a transportation policy analyst for Public Citizen.

Flickr photo by billaday.

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Ethanol is the energy policy fix that never quite works. It’s supported by a 45-cent-per-gallon subsidy, can’t be proven to be environmentally beneficial, and could ruin your engine if too much of it is blended with gasoline.

The EPA requested comments on a petition by Growth Energy filed earlier this year, to allow an increase in the allowable ethanol content of gasoline to rise from 10 percent to 15 percent. EPA has until December 1 to respond to the petition. But some Senators have supported an amendment that would require EPA to grant a waiver to allow ethanol blending up to 15 percent.

The big automobile manufacturer trade associations both expressed concern about raising the allowable ethanol content of gasoline to 15 percent. But recently, the automakers have moved to support additional research into the consequences of increasing the ethanol content of gasoline. (more…)

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The New York Times Wheels blog ran a piece about three small, highly fuel efficient cars that were named Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). For going on three decades, there has been a perception that small cars are less safe. This perception is based on a vastly oversimplified view of crash physics, and the attitude that nothing can be done to improve small car safety has frustrated calls for increasing fuel economy. (more…)

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Today General Motors made yet another big, splashy announcement about the Chevy Volt – complete with a hip-to-the-youngsters viral marketing campaign. This time the news is that GM estimates that the Volt will get 230 miles per gallon in city driving.

So…what does that mean? For the plug-in hybrid Volt, it’s anyone’s guess. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates fuel economy ratings for electric vehicles by measuring the efficiency of the vehicle running on electricity and converting to miles per gallon. (For more details on this see this piece by the Society of Automotive Engineers.) (more…)

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With gas prices and oil industry profits reaching new, obscene highs, Americans deserve real solutions to our energy crisis, and not the partisan finger-pointing that is hallmark of this administration. Beginning with the vice president’s discredited energy task force, the Bush administration has failed to address the root causes of today’s energy crisis: The lack of viable alternatives to car-dependent American families and inadequate regulation of Big Oil and speculators. Bush’s neglect is having a huge impact on our economy and global warming. (more…)

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