A recent study by Consumer Energy Report on the Cash-for-Clunkers program offers some additional alternatives for how the cash might have been spent. After counting how many low-mileage SUVs and trucks were purchased through the program, Lisa Margonelli offers some other alternatives.
“For that much money, we could have
gotten a lot more,” says Lisa Margonelli, who directs the New America
Foundation’s Energy Productivity Initiative. “Consider this: Cash for
Clunkers only required a fuel economy increase of 2 mpg over the
original car, so the total mandated gas savings was about 38 million
gallons of gas. The auto companies can raise the fuel economy of cars
on the assembly line by that much at a cost of $500 per vehicle. So, we
could have given our $2.87 billion to the auto companies to upgrade 5.5
million cars by 2 mpg or more, and bought ourselves a yearly fuel
savings of 303 million gallons of gas.”
That's an 8-fold increase in annual fuel savings. Maybe not as bold as my earlier "modest proposal", but still a useful perspective on how to spend money effectively if the objective was to reduce our dependence on gasoline.