In Germany, They’ve Spent $7B on Clunkers–So Far

I’ve got a clunker in my garage that my family would love to see me get rid of. It’s got a dead battery, needs a new catalytic converter, and now the hood latch doesn’t work so it takes pliers to open it up. You’d think I would be eligible for the much-talked about clunkers rebate program…but no.

You see, my clunker is a 1997 Toyota Avalon, which gets 22 mpg. That’s too high to qualify, so I ain’t gonna get no $4500 for that beast. In a WSJ article today, I read that in Germany, a country with one-third as many people as the US, they’ve already doled out $7 billion to get clunkers off the road. For the first time in months, car dealers are happy, people are buying. One dealer said he set up shop in an unused building to process the rebates, gave away hotdogs and sold 100 vehicles. But even with controllers processing orders until 2 in the morning, they couldn’t get them all through.

Today was a great relief when lawmakers moved another $2 billion from an energy conservation program toward buying more clunkers. I predict that by the end this whole thing could end up costing $10 billion, but removing gas guzzlers that pollute 20 times more than new cars is worth it.