Washington, D.C. – The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is urging the U.S. Congress to include two additional provisions to its “scrappage scheme,” which would provide a government voucher to consumers who buy a new car in exchange for scrapping a less fuel-efficient vehicle. SEMA’s provisions would require scrapped vehicles be less than 25 years old, and permit the engine and drivetrain to be recycled if they have been disassembled.

SEMA said that while it has supported vouchers toward the purchase of fuel-efficient new vehicles as a mechanism to direct new-car sales to automakers and dealerships, it has steadfastly opposed tying those vouchers to a vehicle scrappage requirement. SEMA offered the amendments as a means to improve the legislation.

Under the draft legislation currently circulating in Congress, the program would last up to one year, and potentially scrap one million older cars and trucks. The scrapped vehicles must get less than 18 mpgUS (13.0 L/100 km), and the program mandates that the engine block and drivetrain be destroyed. Depending on the fuel efficiency of the new vehicle, the vouchers will be worth US$3,500 or $4,500.

“SEMA is working with lawmakers to mitigate some of the legislation’s unintended consequences and its potential damage to the automotive aftermarket,” said Chris Kersting, SEMA president and CEO. “These common-sense proposals will make sure the government is not spending $3,500 or $4,500 on a vehicle that may only be worth a few hundred dollars, but may have potential value to vehicle collectors and to promote the benefits of parts recycling.”

SEMA said that a vehicle that is 25 years or older is rarely driven, does not contribute to the country’s dependence on foreign oil, and is worth far less than the government voucher. A 25-year exclusion would also guarantee that older cars that have a historic or aesthetic value are not inadvertently crushed. These vehicles are valued by hobbyists, or may be a source of recyclable parts on restoration projects.

The letter also noted that recycling the engine and transmission is environmentally sensitive. “If the legislation simply requires that the equipment be disassembled as the vehicle is scrapped, it would fulfill lawmakers’ intent to prevent an engine/drivetrain from being directly installed into another vehicle,” Kersting said. “The responsible recycling of parts is a better solution for preserving natural resources and reducing CO2 emissions than crushing the equipment.”

SEMA said that rebuilt engines require an estimate 80 per cent less energy to produce than a new engine, and cost 30 to 50 per cent less, since the core has been salvaged.

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