Here is the full list of all 677,081 cars destroyed in cash for Clunkers

Thirteen years ago, Cash For Clunkers offered a unique premise. Help save a collapsing domestic auto industry, inject much-needed capital into an economy ravaged by a massive recession, and replace America’s old road-eaters with more efficient cars. The federal scrappage scheme that destroyed nearly 700,000 allegedly gas-guzzling vehicles had basic criteria: No car could be 25 years old or older, cars had to manage 18 mpg combined or worse, drivable, and their scrap value and scrap was to be applied to a car that would be registered and insured for a continuous year after purchase.

What was taken off the roads is expected to have been recycled multiple times, but the truth is not lost as we have unearthed a little-known and long-lost full report on every CFC car destroyed. With talk of a new buyback program to push people from internal combustion to electric vehicles echoing in Washington DC, it’s the perfect time to review what happened the last time we cashed in our messes.

We found the report in a Wayback Machine archive of CARS.gov, the website for the car rebate system, also known as Cash For Clunkers. The site has been offline for more than five years, but the complete record of each of the nearly 700,000 destroyed vehicles survives. While there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about CFC claiming some exotics, this coverage was not based on an audited list to remove incorrect entries, duplicates and other errors.

We’ve now finalized the data that gives us an insight into what was destroyed under CFC, and yes, that includes a number of cars that will really make you feel very excited. We’ve got a few stories that will go through everything with a fine-toothed comb, including one about the classics, rarities and performance cars that met their fate during those heady days of the summer of 2009.

But first, here’s the full list of abandoned cars and trucks. We’ve embedded the PDF below, sorted alphabetically by manufacturer. We’ve also set up a public Google Sheet linked here in case there are any issues with the PDF. Take it all:

I wanted to start by looking at what destroyed CFC the majority. But due to the format of the report, this is not easy. Vehicles are divided by year, make, model, and transmission configuration, splitting individual models into multiple entries. Still, I was able to remove the cream from the top by processing only the first 150. This still gave me a good idea of ​​what cars claimed CFC. And here they are:

  1. Ford Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer 1995-2003: 46,676
  2. Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth minivans 1996-2000: 23,998
  3. Jeep Grand Cherokee 1993-1998: 20,844
  4. Ford F-150 1992-1997: 20,222
  5. Jeep Cherokee 1984-2001: 18,329
  6. Collection GM C/K 1988-2002: 17,202
  7. Chevrolet Blazer 1995-2005: 15,668
  8. Ford Windstar 1999-2003: 12,157
  9. Ford Explorer 1991-1994: 11,612
  10. Dodge Ram 1500 1994-2001: 8,103
2002 Ford Explorer, the most crushed vehicle model under Cash For Clunkers, Ford

While the list is a neat cross-section of the most popular cars in the US at the time, popularity alone isn’t why these vehicles were the most smashed. They were destroyed because CFC was intended (at least apparently) to increase the poor fuel efficiency of American drivers’ cars. Not a single top vehicle topped 18 mpg with an automatic transmission and barely 16 mpg combined.

This happens to be almost the average all CFC deliveries, which the Department of Transportation calculated to be 15.8 mpg. Because CFC worked on a rebate system, where dealers got cash for accepting rebate vouchers, the federal government could track the gas mileage improvement margin for each sale. In doing so, it found that the average mpg of replacement vehicles under the CFC program was 24.9 mpg, a 58% improvement.

1999 Chrysler Town & Country, the second most crushed model under Cash For Clunkers, chrysler

But while 700,000 vehicles gaining more than 9 mpg sounds like a lot, the US Energy Information Administration noted no improvement in the fuel economy of the nation’s motor vehicles as a result of CFCs. In any case, he recorded a marginal one decline from 2009 to 2010. The CFC effect on US fleet fuel consumption was further diluted by subsequent years of record car sales: Since 2010, more than 185 million new cars have been sold in USA according to Axelwise.

The program’s effect on our gas consumption was ultimately negligible, and that doesn’t take into account the other drawbacks of CFCs. It cost the U.S. government $3 billion, some of which indirectly supplemented the bailouts issued to U.S. automakers, though much of it went overseas. Apocryphally, CFC was also to blame for the rise in used car prices. But this could be explained as the result of higher demand for cheap used cars during the recession.

1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee Orvis Edition, Jeep

“Recession” is once again in the language of economists, so CFC revivals are proposed, sometimes aimed at the adoption of electric vehicles; the latter has been proposed to DC according to speculative reports. If the U.S. does indeed enter another recession and a CFC-style program returns, then its advocates need to consider what happened the first time we tried to cash in, not to mention the differences under market conditions between 2009 and 2022. Then demand was the problem; today it’s supply, and a CFC EV could quickly become a windfall for car dealers and few others.

We can speculate on whether CFC achieved what it set out to do, and we will. But what’s gone isn’t debatable, and here’s the final list.

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