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Auto Industry: Lessons Learned from Cash for Clunkers Program

GAO-10-486 Published: Apr 29, 2010. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2010.
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In July and August 2009, the federal government implemented the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) program, or "Cash for Clunkers," a temporary vehicle retirement program that offered consumers a monetary credit ($3,500 or $4,500) to trade in an older vehicle for a new, more fuel-efficient one. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was responsible for administering the program, and GAO was required to review the program's administration. This report examines (1) what is known to date about the extent to which the CARS program achieved its objectives; (2) what stakeholders' experiences were with the CARS program; and (3) how the CARS program compares to other selected domestic and international vehicle retirement programs. To address these issues, GAO reviewed the CARS legislation and implementing regulations, a required NHTSA report to Congress on the program's efficacy, and CARS program transaction data. GAO also contacted officials from NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); representatives of industry organizations and academics; as well as CARS program stakeholders, including representatives from consumer groups, scrap and salvage industries, automobile manufacturers, vehicle dealerships, and charities. GAO also interviewed officials from other domestic and international vehicle retirement programs and reviewed information about these programs.


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Automobile industryCharitable organizationsData collectionEligibility criteriaEligibility determinationsFederal aid programsFuel consumptionLeasesLessons learnedManufacturing industryMotor vehiclesProgram evaluationProgram managementSalesSurveysAutomobilesIncentives