Former vice-president and current U.S. presidential hopeful Joe Biden wants to resurrect “cash for clunkers.” For those who don’t remember, it was a government program that provided financial incentives for car owners to trade in their old, inefficient vehicles. It provided rebates and tax incentives to buy a newer, fuel-efficient model.

Biden made the announcement as he unveiled his climate action plan on the social media platform Periscope. He said he wants to make the United States a leader in the design, manufacture, and adoption of clean vehicles. To do that, he plans to put forward a new “cash for clunkers” scheme. He suggested it would offer rebates or incentives to anyone who make the switch from internal combustion to electric vehicles.

Biden also said he wants to replace the U.S. government’s massive fleet of vehicles. Most of the existing vehicles are gas models, and he would like to see them be American-made electric vehicles. This would be a huge shot in the arm to the country’s automotive industry.

Making The Switch

To encourage the switch, Biden said he will build half a million new EV charging stations across the U.S. if elected president. He said the key to widespread adoption of EV technology is alleviating “range anxiety.” Many Americans are still reluctant to buy an EV, fearing they may end up stranded far from a charging station. Biden’s plan to move America towards more common EV use could cost $454 billion over 10 years. Supporters of the plan insist its an investment in the future of both the climate and in one of America’s most important industries.

The previous cash for clunkers federal program ended in November 2009. At that point, the $3 billion allocated for it had been depleted. To qualify for the credit, a traded-in car had to be less than 25 years old, have an EPA rated fuel efficiency of less than 18 miles per gallon, be in drivable condition, and be scrapped. The old program was praised for stimulating the U.S. economy while reducing pollution at the same time. Biden clearly hopes that a new version will have the same effect.


Devon is a writer, editor, and veteran of the online publishing world. He has a particular love for classic muscle cars.