Senator Schumer Proposes $462B Trade-In Program to Swap Gas for Electric Cars

Is this the eco-return of Cash for Clunkers?

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On Thursday night, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer submitted a radical new plan to drastically reduce the amount of gasoline-powered vehicles on the road and get millions of Americans into electric or hybrid vehicles sooner rather than later. The proposal involves a $462 billion trade-in program that if approved, could motivate the American people to swap their climate-damaging cars for cleaner vehicles, according to Reuters.

The Senate Minority Leader called this a "proposal to bring clean cars to all of America," and it joins many larger-than-life plans submitted by Democratic presidential candidates to help curb gas, oil, and coal emissions. It essentially would make billions of dollars available to drivers who would be willing to get rid of their gasoline-burning cars for a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric vehicle. According to the plan, rebates of $3,000 or more to individual buyers would help transition a quarter of all U.S. cars, or the equivalent to 63 million vehicles, from internal combustion to electrified within 10 years.

"The goal of the plan, which also aims to spur a transformation in American manufacturing, is that by 2040 all vehicles on the road should be clean," wrote Schumer on his column for the New York Times.

Schumer highlighted that only electric or hybrid vehicles assembled in the United States would qualify for the subsidy, reinforcing that this program wouldn't just help tackle a climate problem, but would also create thousands of jobs and be good for the American economy. Other details of the plan revealed that low-income households and vehicles with a certain percentage of American-made parts could also qualify for extra credits.

"I have a proposal that is supported not just by environmentalists but also by labor and large automakers," added Schumer.

Considering Americans have often cited range anxiety and high prices as the largest barriers for EV ownership, this program helps tackle the latter as technology has taken care of the former over the last few years. Although not mentioned during his speech, the Senate Minority Leader's plan bears a certain resemblance to the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) from 2009, which is more commonly known as "Cash for Clunkers." CARS awarded a $3 billion economic incentive to trade in old, gas-guzzling cars for newer and more fuel-efficient ones.