Last month China proposed a plan to offer consumers a cash incentive to scrap their cars and buy new ones. Germany is the latest country looking at the same option, with a law that aims to give €2,500 to people getting rid of cars that are at least nine years old and buying new ones.

China may want to watch what happens in Germany: so far, interest in the program looks like it could exceed the available funds. The German government set aside €1.5 billion for reimbursements, which is enough to reward 600,000 people. But in just two days, the office that will look after the program got 420,000 phone calls. One German market research firm put the potential number of takers at 1.2 million.

If the measure passes into law as is, then early birds would get the incentive worm. The €1.5 billion is coming out of a €50 billion German stimulus plan, aimed at reviving the automotive, transport, and education sectors, and it wouldn't seem out of the question for them to double the allotted funds to allow all to participate. Although no one knows how much the program would help German automakers -- people might scrap their cars and buy Fords -- it would put money back into the economy and get cleaner cars on the roads to boot. Hat tip to Gregg!

[Source: Der Spiegel | Photo: Ms. Martin]