brief thoughts on cash for clunkers
Well, first of all I have a clunker. A minivan to be precise. It is rusty on the top, and though it drives fairly well in town, our mechanic recently warned us not to take it out of town. So we went to look at some new cars when this cash-for-clunkers scheme was hatched, because there’s no way we could sell that thing for $4500. A few thoughts:
First, cars are too expensive. Basically all the “basic” models were sold-out by the time we got there. So the Honda Civic advertised at $7999 after discounts and the government rebate – well, there was nothing even close. The lowest we could get anything was about $14,000.
Second, cars are too fancy for the regular buyer. These cars are all chalk-full of extras: Blue Tooth; storage organizers; plush interirors; stereo-systems; fancy bumpers; computers and navigation systems. I don’t want any of this stuff. I want a car, damnit. One that runs and doesn’t cost me a fortune. Preferably one that isn’t so computerized as to be almost entirely inaccessible to a mechanic or tinkerer without a diagnostic computer. I want durability.
Third, this program’s success speaks directly to the price and fanciness of new cars these days. If car companies want to sell more cars, they need to start selling more cars that are at least $4500 cheaper. Basic models with no frills, brand new off the lot for six or seven or eight thousand dollars. They don’t need to be super fuel-efficient, though that wouldn’t hurt. (I’m all for bringing back diesel, myself.) If car makers want to see their numbers go up, they need to manufacture cheaper vehicles. They won’t always have the government around to offer cash for clunkers.
I think we’ll just go buy something used and sell our P.O.S. to the highest bidder. A friend of ours recently went out and bought a 95 Civic because it was pre-computerization and he wanted something he could work on himself that got good gas mileage. Unfortunately it doesn’t have AC. And he lives in Phoenix, AZ.
Note: I never considered an “American made” vehicle at any point and still don’t. Both my current cars are “American made” and they’ve convinced me to go Asian this time. We’re thinking Subaru for the AWD. That’s another point that can’t be made enough – not only are these cars too expensive, they’re often far less reliable than they should be. Back to the basics!