Preliminary rules for the CARS act – which was known as the Cash for Clunkers bill and is now more officially known as the CAR Allowance Rebate System or the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009 – were released by the Federal government today. Automakers have been busy doubling the rebates and emphasizing the green results of the bill, but today was the first chance to see exactly how CARS will work. It's about time.

Most of the work is the responsibility of the dealers selling the cars. This makes sense, since the law was passed, in part, to help them. Dealers can find a nearby facility to scrap the cars that are turned in from the CARS website, and need to confirm with the scrappers directly that they can crush or shred the vehicles. Dealers must also do things like disable the engines of the cars coming in, as described on page 127 of the 136-page rulebook (PDF), and have seven days of accepting a trade-in vehicle to get paperwork – a lot of it – to the government in order to receive their money.

Customers are responsible for bringing in an old "clunker" that gets, at most, 18 mpg (thanks, charities) and buy a new vehicle with better mpg. It looks like it might be possible to get more than $4,500 for your trade-in, because any scrap value that the trade-in has can be added to the rebate.

Not everyone is pleased with CARS. The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) released a statement, available after the jump, saying they anticipate "a consumer backlash once reality replaces the hype." There won't be that much time for the hype to die down, though, since the CARS program is currently scheduled to end on Nov. 1, or when the $1 billion set aside for the program runs out (it could be extended). We'll see.

[Source: Automotive News (sub. req'd), CARS.gov, AAIA]


PRESS RELEASE:

AAIA Predicts Consumer Backlash on 'Cash for Clunkers'

BETHESDA, Md., July 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As new car dealerships ramp up advertising to attract consumers to the showroom using "Cash for Clunkers" as an incentive, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) anticipates a consumer backlash once reality replaces the hype.

"It wouldn't surprise me if there is a consumer backlash once car owners realize that 'Cash for Clunkers' is nothing more than a clever slogan for a program to spend $1 billion of our tax dollars to fund a government subsidized vehicle trade-in to help new car dealers sell cars," said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO. "Consumers will soon learn that they are simply trading in their vehicle and will still have to jump through all of the hoops to qualify for and purchase a new vehicle."

The much heralded fuel efficiency and environmental benefits of purchasing a new vehicle could easily be achieved through better maintenance of an existing vehicle or trading up to a newer used vehicle, according to AAIA. Any savings from improved miles per gallon will be lost from the costs involved in destroying and disposing of the "clunkers."

AAIA has strongly opposed "Cash for Clunkers" that prematurely destroys vehicles and their valuable parts and components. "Destroying vehicles with many more years of life denies consumers more affordable used vehicles and pulls vehicles from the aftermarket supply chain," said Schmatz.

The Consumer Allowance Rebate System, the official name for "Cash for Clunkers," offers vouchers up to $4,500 to new car dealerships for consumers who trade-in their vehicle for a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle.

About AAIA

AAIA is a Bethesda, Md.-based association whose more than 23,000 member and affiliates manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, service, tool, equipment, materials and supplies. Through its membership, AAIA represents more than 100,000 repair shops, parts stores and distribution outlets.