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Senate ‘Clunker’ Bill Includes SEMA Safeguard for Older Cars and Trucks

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The
Specialty Market Equipment Association (SEMA) says that legislation
introduced in the U.S. Senate to establish a one-year national vehicle
scrappage program includes a SEMA provision to prevent cars that are 25
years or older from being crushed. The bill was introduced by Sen.
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and is otherwise
identical to legislation recently approved by the House Energy
Committee by a 50-4 vote.

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Under the so-called "Cash for Clunkers" program, consumers who buy a
qualifying new car would receive a voucher credit in exchange for
scrapping a trade-in car that gets less than 18 mpg (15 mpg for heavy
pickups and vans). Under the SEMA provision however, the trade-in car
or truck must be less than 25 years old. Senators Stabenow and
Brownback included the stipulation to help safeguard vehicles that may
possess “historic or aesthetic value” and are irreplaceable to
hobbyists as a source of restoration parts.

The car buyer would receive a $3,500 voucher if they bought a new
passenger car that was at least 4 mpg higher than the older vehicle or
a new pickup truck/SUV that was at least 2 mpg higher than the old
truck. They would receive $4,500 if the passenger car was at least 10
mpg higher and the truck/SUV was at least 5 mpg higher. The program
would mandate that the engine block and drivetrain be destroyed.

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Many lawmakers view a vehicle scrappage program as a mechanism to
stimulate auto sales and reduce excess dealership inventory. While
still promoting better ways to spur sales and clean the environment,
SEMA is also seeking to mitigate the potential unintended consequences
and damage a scrappage program might have on the automotive
aftermarket.

The Senate will likely consider the vehicle scrappage legislation in
early June. SEMA said it will continue to work to ensure that the
25-year provision remains in any bill enacted into law.

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