These days, it seems that just about everyone is trying to get in on all the federal handouts and economic stimulus incentives that are being kicked around the marble halls of Washington, DC. How about an “Accelerated Retirement of Inefficient Assembly Lines Act”? It would allow American manufacturers to receive some type of monetary (or tax) incentive for scrapping old conveyors, fixtures, parts feeders, robots, screwdrivers, workstations and other production equipment.
These days, it seems that just about everyone is trying to get in on all the federal handouts and economic stimulus incentives that are being kicked around the marble halls of Washington, DC. Have you heard about the national car-crushing initiative? It would encourage consumers to trade-in their gas-guzzling pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles for more fuel-efficient automobiles.
The “Accelerated Retirement of Inefficient Vehicles Act” is sponsored by three U.S. Senators: Susan Collins (R-ME), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Jay Inslee (D-WA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dennis Moore (D-KS). The “cash for clunkers” program would reimburse drivers with a credit of $2,500 to $4,500. To qualify for the trade-in discount, vehicles would need to have a current fuel economy of less than 18 miles per gallon and would need to be in drivable condition.
A similar initiative was recently unveiled in Germany. The government is paying people $3,250 to trade in vehicles that are at least nine years old and purchase greener cars. It's based on a car-scrapping program that exists in France.
According to the House and Senate bills' sponsors, the U.S. program would operate for four years and would encourage the early retirement of up to one million vehicles per year. The controversial proposal would also provide vouchers that could be redeemed for mass-transit fares on local buses and trains.
The idea sounds good in theory, but not everyone is in favor of it. For instance, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA, Diamond Bar, CA) is vehemently opposed to the measure. “The is no evidence that the program will achieve the goal of boosting new car sales or increasing fuel mileage,” says Steve McDonald, SEMA’s vice president for government affairs. “The program will hurt thousands of independent repair shops, auto restorers, customizers and their customers across the country that depend on the used car market.”
Personally, I’m not in favor of the measure. I have always driven fuel-efficient vehicles and I’ve conscientiously chosen not to be “king of the road” by sitting behind the wheel of something that’s impractically big. Then again, I believe people should be free to drive whatever they want.
The “cash for clunkers” proposal does intrigue me, however. I wonder if a similar incentive could be applied to manufacturing. How about an “Accelerated Retirement of Inefficient Assembly Lines Act”?
My proposal would allow American manufacturers to receive some type of monetary (or tax) incentive for scrapping old conveyors, fixtures, parts feeders, presses, robots, screwdrivers, workstations and other production equipment. That way, large and small manufacturers could retool their old assembly lines so that they can operate more efficiently and compete more effectively with foreign rivals.
If you think this might be an effective incentive, contact your local guys and gals in Washington and urge them to kick the idea around . . . when they’re not busy meeting with lobbyists.
Time to Discard Old Assembly Lines?
By Austin Weber
Austin has been senior editor for ASSEMBLY Magazine since September 1999. He has more than 21 years of b-to-b publishing experience and has written about a wide variety of manufacturing and engineering topics. Austin is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
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