Cash for Clunkers goes to China as the world's largest auto market clogs in smog

Can you teach an old Chinese dog a new American trick? Maybe, according to

Because of their population base and the ratio of cars to people, China is the world's largest automotive market. And their big cities are choked up with traffic and the smog it produces.

In spite of that, and after years of double digit sales growth, April numbers saw China's sales drop 14% and that has Chinese bureaucrats worried because numbers for May are apparently even worse.

So worried that China's Ministry of Commerce borrowed an American idea - cash for clunkers.

That program let US auto owners trade in their older cars for newer ones and get up to $4,500 bonus money. Well, the Chinese are calling their cash for clunkers program "early retirement" for vehicles. They are offering between $1,700 and $2,800 for old vehicles when new ones are bought.

The "early retirement" program also covers farm vehicles and buses and heavy duty trucks and is intended to avoid an economic slowdown that can hurt the Chinese auto industry which, like America's auto industry, largely fuels the national economy in China, according to

In the US, analysts say the cash for clunker program caused an extra 625,000 vehicles to be sold that would not otherwise have happened and the Chinese are hoping to duplicate it or do even better. There were plenty of critics around for the US program but in China, where the press and the people are far more tightly controlled, there isn't a critic to be found.

Who knows - if they sell enough of them, maybe we'll open a lemon law office over there. Meanwhile, if you are over here, and you've got a lemon, we can help. Getting rid of lemon cars and lemon trucks is what we do.