SEMA joining fight against ‘cash for clunkers’ bill

SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association,  is opposing an effort by some Washington lawmakers to include a national car crushing program in the upcoming economic stimulus package. Vehicles targeted for the scrap pile will likely include Chevy Blazers, Silverados, S-10s and Tahoes; Dodge Dakotas and Rams; Ford Explorers and F-Series; Jeep Cherokees and Wranglers; and any other SUV or truck that obtains less than 18 mpg.

Under the plan, the federal government would pay a premium for ’99-and-newer cars.  

According to SEMA, the “Accelerated Retirement of Inefficient Vehicles Act” is “cash for clunkers” with a twist. Instead of focusing exclusively on old cars as is typical with scrappage programs, this bill will target any vehicle with lower fuel-economy ratings. Participants will receive a cash voucher to purchase a more fuel-efficient new car or used car (model year 2004 or later) or receive credit for the purchase of public transportation tickets.

Under the legislation, “fuel efficient” means at least 25 percent better mileage than the CAFE standard. It will be illegal to resell the scrapped vehicles. Bill sponsors want to destroy 4 million pickups and SUVs over the next four years.

“Our members, like all business entities, are suffering the effects of the stalled economy,” said Steve McDonald, SEMA vice president of government affairs. “In fact, for our members that market product for newer vehicles, we depend on a thriving and vibrant auto industry to create new business opportunities. We support efforts to spur new-car sales. We don’t, however, support public policy efforts that we are convinced don’t work and will waste tax dollars in the process.”

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