Cash for clunkers is a program set up earlier this year by the Senate in an attempt to get older less fuel efficient cars off the road and to boost the new car buying economy. Vehicles from 1984 or newer having a mpg (miles per gallon) rating of 18 or less are eligible. Owners of passenger cars could get $3,500 if they buy a vehicle that is rated at least 4 mpg better or $4,500 for 10 mpg or better than what they are driving. SUVs, trucks and van owners will get $3,500 for an improvement of 2 mpg and $4,500 for 5 mpg or more. The owner of the trade-in must have had the vehicle for at least a year, and it must be drivable.

The government programs, officially called the car allowance rebate system (CARS), has been so popular that one week after its launch the programs funding had been used up. The US transport secretary, Ray LaHood, is asking the senate to vote for an additional two billion in financing to continue the program. Germany, Italy, Britain, Romania, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain and Serbia have also introduced their own versions of cash for clunkers programs and have experienced stronger sales almost immediately.

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