Basically, what I see as the main issue with this program is that it is only applicable to cars 25-years-old and younger. So, any car built before 1984 can not be traded-in. Now, before you get all excited, I do realize that many cars manufactured in the early 80s are more fuel efficient than many of the modern behemoths currently on the road. But, those cars wouldn't be eligible because they are too fuel efficient. However, that does leave 5 million of the other stinkers ineligible and still on the road.
One huge issue is that cars built before the mid 1970s didn't have catalytic converters and, in many cases, spew out hundreds of times the amount of particulate matter than even the most fuel inefficient beast produces today.
From the LA Times:
For example, a 1965 Chevrolet Malibu, when new, produced 400 times the smog-forming pollutants that a new 2010 Malibu produces, said John Swanton, an air pollution specialist with the board. Thus, an old Malibu driven only 1,000 miles per year produces as much pollution as a new Malibu would in 400,000 miles.
Why is it that the cars that really need to be pulled off the road aren't eligible for this program? Well, it seems that the classic car lobby managed to get older cars excluded. I don't understand the impetus for this lobbying effort, I'm sure there is one that makes sense to somebody, but frankly, the people I know that drive their classic cars around regularly really need some serious emissions control (but that's another story entirely).
I believe most of this has something to do with the aftermarket parts manufacturers not wanting their customer base removed. Unfortunately, the result is that the guy that drives a beat-up 1981 Dodge pickup can't take advantage of this program, even though his car doesn't exactly qualify as a "classic car" and, realistically, isn't spending a whole lot tricking out his ride.
So, is this program devised to help get fuel inefficient cars off the road, or really, just to move new cars off the lot? Methinks that if this program were really about fuel efficiency and pollution they would have told the classic car lobbying group to go stick it up their hotrod. You can thank the government for another auto bailout, this one more back-handed than usual.