Speaking of Clunkers…

clunker Cash for Clunkers is a mega-clunker, as it (very unsurprisingly) turns out.

What kind of MPG leap is the free-money-for-cars gambit yielding? It must be wondrous, right?

Not so much:

Edmunds.com analysts have determined that in May and June, the average fuel efficiency of recently purchased new cars was 21.8 miles per gallon. Since the program launched, the average has jumped to 23.2 mpg, a 6.1 percent improvement.

Wow! Stunning!

And how about the widespread report that the Toyota Corolla is now the #1 seller? Turns out that’s false. The actual bestseller is the Ford Escape SUV, which comes in six sub-models, so gets counted as six different makes, rather than one, in the bogus reports you’re hearing. As Advertising Age explains:

Interestingly, the government’s list of top-10 vehicles sold showed that consumers bought mostly compact cars during the promotion, with the Toyota Corolla in the No. 1 slot. The discrepancy arises because Uncle Sam considers each of the six versions of the Escape (as well as different versions of the trucks) to be a separate model, while Edmunds tallied all Escape-model sales.

The actual top ten models people are choosing with their “Clunkers” trade-ins, according to edmunds.com?

1. Ford Escape — an SUV

2. Ford Focus

3. Jeep Patriot — an SUV

4. Dodge Caliber — an SUV

5. Ford F-150 — a pick-up truck

6. Honda Civic

7. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 — a pick-up truck

8. Chevrolet Cobalt

9. Toyota Corolla

10. Ford Fusion

So, five of the top seven are SUVs or pick-ups.

“Only in America,” as they say…

Ah, the Mighty NHTSA…

mousedish The mouse that doesn’t even squeak, the Orwellian sop to Naderian special pleading, the organization that dares put “highway traffic” and “safety” not just together, but together in its very name…

So, let’s say the Congress wanted to find a way to give away some free money to help further bail out car capitalists by encouraging commoners to step up their anemic, Great Depression III automotive purchasing rates.  Which governmental agency would one expect the money to be managed by?  The Commerce Department, perhaps?

In reality, can you guess where the conduit lies for the federal government’s new Car Allowance Rebate System, a.k.a. “C.A.R.S.”, a.k.a. “cash-for-guzzlers” program?

Yep:  In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration!

This fact speaks volumes in several directions, not least as proof that the NHTSA, both by design and established practice, does nothing serious to make personal mobility safer in this market-totalitarian society.  It is a cover, a shield, a deflector for our massively deadly, dangerous, and irrational cars-first arrangement.  Hence, in a nation where 35,000-55,000 people die in car crashes each and every year, the NHTSA in the year 2009 has the time and staff to administer a complex program for passing out free money for even more cars!

Footnote:  If you watch any TV, you’ll have already noticed that, in local auto dealers’ aggressive come-on advertising, “cash-for-guzzlers” is most certainly not being explained in any substantial degree.  Judging from these ads, which (at least in my “market” of Portland, Oregon) are blatantly mis-labeling the program “cash-for-clunkers,” any reasonable person would conclude there are no requirements for obtaining money other than owning a clunker.

In reality, there are narrow rules based on vehicle age and gas-mileage ratings.

Hence, the actual main effect of the “cash-for-guzzlers reimbursement system” is to serve as a publicly-sponsored marketing platform for a new round of bait-and-switch selling on the nation’s car lots.  “Now that you’re here…”