Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced a new bill Wednesday as a follow-up to the short-lived-by-design Cash for Clunker program. The bill, called The Efficient Vehicle Leadership Act of 2009 (S. 1620), would, the Senators claim, spur auto sales for the long haul by rationalizing incentives to buy fuel efficient vehicles.
The Act would create a reward program for consumers who purchase vehicles (in 2010 or later) with gas mileage exceeding that of the average overall fuel economy required for that vehicle’s class (CAFE). These consumers would receive a performance rebate, which they could claim on their tax returns or at point-of-sale (instantly, from the dealer who sold them the vehicle). Depending on the extent to which the vehicle exceeds its CAFE, the rebate could range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Other reported advantages of the program would be that it would be self-adjusting, complementary with CAFE, market driven, and technology neutral (reliant on a continuing efficiency incentive instead of on technology-specific tax credits).
Starting in the program’s third year (2013), it would require manufacturers to pay a fuel performance fee for fuel inefficient vehicles. This fee would apply to not apply to vehicles manufactured before 2013.