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.