When you get down to the brass tax, C4C is just a way to draw Americans further into debt by offering what seems like a great deal (either a $3500 or a $4500 cash rebate) on a new, more fuel efficient car when you trade in your "gas guzzler". That's $3500 - $4500 off a new car, but, really? You are still paying THOUSANDS of dollars you would otherwise not be spending by signing a new lease or loan. I've got an even greater deal in my driveway! A fully paid for reliable vehicle that passes smog. Check it out! I just saved $20k+!!
Now, I know there are a few folks out there that have cars that really should be off the road for a number of reasons (environmentally unsound, safety hazards, etc.), but a vast majority of the people that I've heard cashing in on the C4Cs program are just trading in their minivan for a newer minivan that happens to get better gas mileage. Of COURSE it's fun to get new toys! I mean, who isn't intoxicated by the smell of new car? I am!
There are a couple of things I see wrong with the C4Cs program rules:
1) For passenger automobiles, the new vehicle must have a combined fuel economy value of at least 22 miles per gallon.
I used to drive a 1997 Saturn SL2 that got 26 miles per gallon. I don't see the 22 mpgs as a huge improvement.
2) ...The Act directs NHTSA to set up a program in which owners of vehicles meeting statutorily specified criteria may receive a monetary credit for trading in their vehicle and purchasing or leasing certain new vehicles.
NEW vehicles. You know, the ones that depreciate at the exact moment you sign your John Hancock on the dotted line?? I found this pretty cool website that allows you to calculate your cars depreciation. Here are the examples I did:
Car Price: $25k
Years old when purchased: 0 (ie NEW)