Are you itching to buy a hybrid but just don't have the cash? US Representative Betty Sutton's "Cash for Clunkers" program, introduced in Congress this week, could help. Sutton's bill is a new incarnation a similar "Cash for Clunkers" program proposed and subsequently scrapped in January. If passed, the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Act will give U.S. residents the option of turning in vehicles at least eight years old for cash vouchers worth up to $5,000—a substantial deposit into the Prius fund. Cars made in the United States will receive an extra $1,000 bonus.
Potential car buyers that want yet-to-be-released plug-in hybrids (PHEV) like the Chevy Volt and the Saturn Vue will be rewarded for their patience. Beginning in 2010, Sutton's bill would offer $7,500 for plug-in electric hybrids that get 100 MPG or more. And if you prefer taking the train to sitting in traffic, the CARS act still has you covered with mass transit vouchers worth up to $3,000.
There are just a few caveats: cars purchased with the vouchers have to be worth $35,00 or less and have to be more fuel-efficient than consumers' current car.
Germany has already instituted a similar program that has proven to be wildly successful. Car sales in the country jumped 22% in February from the same time last year—the strongest level of February sales in ten years.
Sutton's bill could potentially give automakers a huge reason to speed up the production of fuel-efficient cars: millions of potential buyers with cash vouchers in hand.
[Via The Detroit News]