<VV> Cash for Clunkers

Alan and Clare Wesson alan.wesson at atlas.co.uk
Mon May 11 02:44:23 EDT 2009

The other thing I have not seen pointed out, but which would happen, is that 
if cars are only going to have to last 9 years, manufacturers will cheapen 
their parts so that they are 'lifed' at 7 or 8 years. So a 5 or 6 year-old 
car will be as far through its life cycle as a 12 year-old one is now.

And manufacturers already control the life expectancy of the cars they make, 
by adjusting the quality of the components they put into them - and (even 
more so) by the pricing structure of the parts they sell. Most of the cars I 
see in junkyards are there because they need parts that are more expensive 
than it is worth spending on them - but it is the manufacturers that control 
the prices, and they can reduce or increase the rate and age of scrappage of 
the cars they make at the stroke of an accountant's pen.

I have a 1995 Volvo 940 wagon that I use for towing - it is a horrible car, 
but it is cheap to run and very solid (although the interior trim is cheap 
rubbish). Recently while I was on vacation in France I had a 'mirror to 
mirror' coming together with a guy in a modern Volvo in a country lane. The 
glass fell out of my mirror but that was all - it doesn't stick out very 
far, and is mounted at the base on a VERY strong metal pillar. In addition 
it is black, so I do not need to get the housing painted if it gets hit.

The other car that was involved was a modern Renault, with a mirror that 
sticks out from the A pillar (rather than having a base under it). The 
mirror was body coloured and contained the turn signal. The whole assembly 
shattered and the mirror swung back and smashed the guy's side window.

He tried to assert that it was my fault but it wasn't (he was too far over 
towards my side of the road), and anyway in a lane where there is no line up 
the middle the convention is that each person pays their own repairs, which 
is what we did. But I heard from him that the cost of repairs to his cars 
was over $1200 (700 GBP) including parts, labour and paint.

The cost of repairs to my Volvo was $4 for a stick-on mirror glass. So don't 
tell me that modern cars aren't being built with planned obsolescence in 
mind, nor that manufacturers don't control the life-expectancy of their 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Alan and Clare Wesson" <alan.wesson at atlas.co.uk>
To: <virtualvairs at corvair.org>
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 7:03 AM
Subject: Re: <VV> Cash for Clunkers

> >A similar program in Europe has been an effective stimulus for new
>> car sales.  However, a life-cycle analysis would very likely show
>> its "green" impact to be negative.
> This has been going in Italy for years. The junk yards there are full of 
> nice 70s and 80s classics with destruction orders on them. I almost 
> literally wept at a couple of them (one was a 70s Lancia with 17000 km on 
> the clock, absolutely mint, undented bodywork, and all the plastic shrink 
> wrap from when it was new still on the carpets and door cards. It was just 
> parked there in the yard, and I could have driven it out the gate. Except 
> that the yard owner wasn't allowed to sell it to me). A few 60s but not 
> many (but this would kill some Corvairs, because not everyone has read the 
> 'script' and knows they are driving a valuable collector car!).
> And it's not good environmentally, because a car's manufacturing carbon 
> footprint takes 8 years to amortize and our scheme kicks in at 9 years, so 
> just as the car has caught up with its existing carbon balance, it gets 
> junked and the whole thing starts again.
> The Brit scheme isn't even turning out well for the manufacturers:
> http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8041228.stm
> However, even if it doesn't take off very far in terms of numbers, it will 
> bring in a significant amount of tax, which will be relatively cheap to 
> collect...
> ...and that is surely the main point of the operation!
> Green indeed...
> Cheers
> Alan

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