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UK unveils car scrapping plan to boost new sales

BRITAIN today began offering cash incentives to buyers of new cars who scrap their old model, a program intended to stimulate new car sales, which have slumped 25 percent since last year.

The government and car manufacturers are sharing the cost of giving a discount of 2,000 pounds (US$3,000) to qualified motorists.

To qualify, the old car or van - a "banger" in British slang - must be roadworthy, have been registered before Aug. 21, 1999, and weigh less than 3.5 metric tons.

The new car also most be less than 3.5 tons.

The so-called "bangers for cash" program will continue until Feb. 28 next year, or until the 300 million pounds allocated by the government run out.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which had lobbied for the program, has said it hopes that the British program will be as successful as similar plans in Germany, France and Italy.

Paul Everitt, the society's chief executive, said the plan "has already started to get people back into showrooms."

"There has been a good response to the scheme ahead of the official start date and industry is confident that this will be translated into additional orders," Everott said.

In addition to stimulating car sales, the program is intended to reduce pollution by getting older, less fuel-efficient cars off the roads.

Adrian Tink of RAC, a motoring services company, said the amount of money available and the 10-year rule will limit the impact of the program.

"You've also got to ask what's in it for those on lower incomes who maybe can't afford a brand new car," said Tink. "We're hopeful though that some motorists will see it as an opportunity to invest in a safer, greener vehicle."


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