The California Bureau of Auto Repair (BAR) is planning to up the ante on its vehicle retirement program. There are over three million vehicles in California that are 15 years old or older. This is the vehicle population that the BAR regulatory action is targeting.
Since older vehicles were manufactured when anti-pollution control devices were not as sophisticated and also tend to pollute as they fall into various states of disrepair as they age, their retirement is a key step toward cleaner air.
Vehicle retirement is one of three ways that BAR, under its Consumer Assistance Program, provides financial assistance to car owners that have failed their smog inspection. The other forms of help are a one-time only repair waiver and financial repair cost assistance. Although it is under used (22,000 vehicles annually), retirement of polluting vehicles is accepted as the most efficient way to clean air being fouled by vehicle emissions.
An analysis of a bill proposing the changes stated that “that 75 percent of vehicular pollution is caused by just 25 percent of the vehicle fleet.” The under use of the program represents an untapped means to improve air quality within an existing program.
Under the program consumers apply to BAR and receive approval letters which they take to a dismantler who is contracted to BAR. The salvage yard pays the consumer and scraps the vehicle ending its days as a polluter. BAR currently pays $1000 and $1500 to low income car owners. The hope in some quarters is that this will be raised to $2000.
The Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program (EFMP) provides for the program to include trucks, SUV’s and vans. Estimates are that EFMP would cost over $12 million in its first year and then rise to $14.4 million in subsequent years. The other feature of EFMP is that it includes vehicles that are not due for a smog check which greatly expands the retirement program’s reach to an additional 11,500 vehicles per year.
The hope is that consumers will elect to voluntarily remove their polluting cars from use thus improving air quality earlier than they would normally.