Scrappage schemes offered by car manufacturers are currently heating up the UK car market. These schemes, which offer a sum off a new car in exchange for an older car, are being promoted by almost everyone – from fringe brands such as Suzuki to mass market heavyweights Volkswagen and Ford. The German premium big three are in it too, and BMW was the first to move in the UK.

The BBC says that the scrappage deals come as car manufacturers have been under increasing political pressure to encourage consumers to buy less polluting cars, especially in Germany. As you may have guessed, it follows VW’s Dieselgate scandal, where 11 million vehicles worldwide were found to have cheated on emissions tests.

Volkswagen was one of the early movers. Its UK scheme covers all brands under the VW Group and follows a similar initiative in its home market, where discounts of up to 10,000 euros are being offered for older diesel vehicles. In the UK, VW is offering £1,800 off a new Up! city car to £6,000 off the Sharan MPV and Passat GTE, in exchange for any diesel car below Euro 5 emissions standards, registered before 2010.

UK motorists can get the VW e-Golf for £10,000 less, thanks to scrappage and grants

Collectibles aside, these old cars don’t fetch much on the used market, so it’s an opportunity to cash in on the clunker. And if one wants to upgrade to a hybrid or EV that comes with UK’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) grant, incentives can be combined. For instance, a Volkswagen e-Golf can be had for £10,000 cheaper – £5,500 scrappage + £4,500 grant.

Most of the other brands have a similar requirement. Some, such as Nissan, are using scrappage to push approved used eco-friendly models such as the 24 kWh Leaf EV, while others such as Kia have excluded hybrid and EV models – with the reason that the green cars are too expensive for the majority of its scrappage scheme customers. Ditto Toyota.

There’s a whiff of stock clearance about the scrappage deals. The latest and most in-demand models are excluded from incentives (for instance, Mazda is offering up to £5,000 off everything but the new CX-5 and MX-5), while the biggest discounts are reserved for the most expensive models (Toyota Land Cruiser and Hyundai Santa Fe) or forgotten cars (up to £5,300 off the Alfa Romeo Giulietta).

The forgotten Alfa Romeo Giulietta comes with the biggest discount in the FCA range

The scrappage deals to get old cars off the road coincides with the European Union’s new and tougher emissions tests. All newly-launched cars will have to undergo robust “on-road” testing in addition to lab tests, before they go on sale. The new tests are said to be the most stringent in the world, and would better reflect modern driving styles.

“Combined, these new and demanding tests will soon give consumers emissions performance information that is far closer to what they experience behind the wheel. They will also inspire greater confidence that the new cars they buy are not only the cleanest, but the most fuel efficient ever produced,” said Mike Hawes, CEO of The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Malaysia, or more specifically Proton, had a short-lived car-scrapping programme in 2009. Back then, the Proton Xchange Program offered a RM5,000 discount on a new Proton to those willing to give up their over 10-year old car. The scheme was partly funded by the government’s Economic Stimulus Plan and was very well received – Proton received over 30,000 scrap for discount applications and the government fund was exhausted in less than eight months.

Over the years, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) and Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) have raised the topic of scrappage and its benefits. Do you think that a “cash for clunkers” programme, whether voluntary or mandatory, would work in Malaysia? In any case, the incentives have to be much greater than RM5,000 in this age of discounts.