Incentives to Scrap Old Diesel Cars Aren't Working

  • By Kim Eun-gyeong

    October 13, 2021 08:39

    Half of all drivers who pocketed government subsidies to scrap their old diesel cars ended up buying another diesel car, which defeats the purpose of reducing pollution.

    The government spent W845.4 billion in taxpayers' money over the last five years to scrap 959,000 old diesel cars, but over the same period the number of diesel cars on the roads in fact increased nine percent (US$1=W1,198).

    Drivers who scrap an aging diesel car weighing less than 3.5 tons can get up to W6 million in subsidies. The central government shoulders 60 percent and provincial governments the rest. They can then get another subsidy if they switch to a car powered by something other than diesel.

    According to the Ministry of Environment, 48,757 people in the Seoul metropolitan area received subsidies to scrap their old diesel cars in the first half of 2020.

    But 44 percent of the vehicles they bought with the subsidy were also diesel-powered, and most of them were second-hand.

    A total of 960,000 aging diesel cars were duly scrapped over the last five years, but the number of overall registered diesel vehicles has increased from 9.17 million in 2016 to 9.99 million last year.

    "Many transport trucks or vans are powered by diesel, and there are not many eco-friendly models available and they are more expensive, which is why small-business owners favor second-hand diesel vehicles," said a ministry official. 

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