Russian cash for cars programme roars out of the blocks

This week saw the start of Russia’s cash for cars programme, aimed at boosting local carmakers and offering car owners the chance to upgrade cheaply.

Dozens of people standing in lines to trade their old rusty LADAs for brand-new automobiles – this is “Cash for clunkers” the Russian way.

Vasily Zenskiy says his car was made in 1984, so he decided to buy a new one, and it has to be a cheap auto. For car owners like Vasily, the new-government sponsored program gives significant advantages.

“My car is already old, it was made back in 1984. That’s why my wife and I decided to change it, for a new car, the simplest one. I think that would be great!”

Any car, Russian or foreign, at least 10 years old, can be disposed of at participating dealerships across the country.

The owner gets a sixteen-hundred dollar rebate on any new domestically-produced automobile, a discount of as much as one third.

The list contains 65 models, including foreign brands assembled in Russia.

Automotive dealers in the southern part of the country have already received more than 3000 requests. Some, like one in the small town of Armavir are literally besieged by applicants, according to Marina Polevaya, deputy director of Armavir autocentre.

“Right now I’m thinking that the 200 thousand car quota, that was set by the government, might not be enough.”

Currently there are more than 14 million cars in Russia that qualify.

If the experiment proves successful, the government is planning to turn “cash for clunkers” into a permanent program.

So those who miss out this time, may get another chance after the current deadline of November 1 expires.