Monday, 31 August 2009

The Chilean government will subsidize the purchase of more fuel-efficient trucks for citizens through a program set to start later this year.

The program, called “Cambia tu Camión,” or “Change your Truck,” will offer a bonus of 4, 8 or 12 million pesos (US$7,200, US$14,500 or US$21,700, respectively), toward the purchase of a new, more fuel efficient car, with the trade-in of a truck over 25 years old.

The government has set aside $4 billion pesos for the project (US$7.3 million), and anticipates taking 500 trucks off the road: 230 in 2009 and 270 in 2010. The reclaimed trucks will be converted to scrap metal.

“The conversion to scrap, in exchange for subsidies, could cover at least a third of the purchase of a new truck with (more environmentally friendly) technology,” said Marcelo Tokman, minister of energy.

The government will be accepting applications between Sept. 7 and Oct. 7 and will list the recipients in early November, when the subsidies will start being paid.

The 500 trucks that the program aims to remove constitute 4.5 percent of the roughly 11,130 pre-1984 trucks in the country, as compared to the 106,350 trucks younger than that. 23 percent of the air pollution generated between April and August came from these trucks, according to El Mercurio.

Removing 500 25-year-old trucks, which each emit 240 tons of carbon monoxide every year, would eliminate 120,000 tons of pollution per year, according to the National Commission on the Environment (CONAMA) of the Metropolitan Region.

New trucks, such as the Euro III, emit as much as 95 percent less of certain contaminants, such as nitrous oxide, and 91 percent less carbon monoxide, than an average 25-year-old truck.

The program has won the support of the National Confederation of Truck Owners and the National Automotive Association of Chile.

The plan is also very similar to the Car Allowance Rebate System in the United States, nicknamed “Cash For Clunkers,” which compensated the trade-in of older cars with a subsidy toward a new, fuel-efficient model.

The U.S. version was an immediate success with the people, to the point that the government burned through US$1 billion in just a month, prompting Congress to allocate US$2 billion more to continue the program. Between July 1 and Aug. 26, the U.S. government spent US$2.877 billion on rebates for almost 700,000 cars.


By Daniel Zarchy (

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