Government launches cash-for-clunkers program

After several months of planning and getting all the necessary signatures, the government finally launched its car scrappage scheme on Wednesday.

The government said last December that drivers of cars that are 12 years old or more will be able to take advantage of the scheme and earn a discount of up to 2,800 euros on the purchase of a new vehicle.

However, the scheme has been held up by bureaucratic delays. The government said that the program will begin on Monday, February 21.

PASOK hopes that the measure will boost its tax revenues, which have been flagging in the automobile sector.

Figures released earlier this month by the Association of Motor Vehicle Importers and Representatives (SEAA) indicated that new car sales in November fell 63.4 percent year-on-year to 6,771. The October drop in new car sales reached 57.8 percent, following a 66.6 percent reduction in September.

The scheme will apply to cars purchased before December 31, 1998 and will remain in effect until December 20. It is thought that up to 2.5 million cars could be eligible for scrappage.

However, the savings will only be available to consumers who buy new cars with an engine capacity under 2,000cc.

According to the plans, someone trading in an old car and purchasing a new one with an engine capacity of between 901 and 1,400cc would gain up to 960 euros through tax exemption.

Those buying cars with an engine capacity of 1.4 to 1.6 liters will gain up to 1,430 euros. The incentive rises to 2,100 euros for cars that have engine capacities of 1,601 to 1,800cc. Anyone buying a car with a 1.8 to 2.0-liter engine can save up to 2,800 euros.

Transport Ministry general secretary Haris Tsiokas also revealed on Wednesday that the government is looking into providing incentives for customers to buy hybrid cars.

He also confirmed that the Transport Ministry is positive to ending the ban on cars that run on diesel entering Athens and Thessaloniki. Tsiokas said that the Environment Ministry would also have to give its approval.

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