Believe it or not, a cash-for-clunkers plan helped get old and polluting cars off the road, replacing them with efficient and traffic-reducing personal electric vehicles like e-bikes and e-scooters.

Shocking, right?

Trading in old cars for new electric bikes

Perhaps it’s not so shocking for Lithuanians, who jumped at the opportunity to swap their old cars for new e-bikes.

The program was developed by Lithuania‘s Environmental Project Management Agency (APVA), part of the country’s Ministry of Environment.

The program began this summer with a budget of €8 million.

To qualify, citizens can apply for and then receive a subsidy of up to €1,000 (nearly US$1,200) for the purchase of a new electric bicycle, bicycle, e-scooter, e-moped, e-motorcycle or even public transportation credits, after exchanging their old vehicle, according to LRT.

In fact, many of the older cars being traded in are worth less than €1,000, meaning their owners are already coming out ahead on the deal even before factoring in the additional savings on everything from car insurance to gasoline and parking permits.

Approximately US$1,200 can go a long way towards buying a brand new e-bike. In fact, we’ve reviewed several popular models of e-bikes in the US that can be purchased for that price or less. E-bikes such as the $1,199 RadRunner electric utility bike and the $899 Lectric XP folding e-bike have proven that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a legitimate car-replacing electric bicycle.

So far the Lithuanian program has spent around 95% of its budget, but has already received an additional €3 million to keep the popular program running.

As spokeswoman for the APVA Austėja Jonaitytė explained:

“The initiative received a lot of attention from the population. The number of applications exceeded all expectations. For this reason, the Environment Ministry has allocated an additional 3 million euros from the Climate Change Program.”

Electrek’s Take

I love it. I think it’s an amazing program that could and should be replicated elsewhere.

Obviously, this comes down to a country’s priorities. But I firmly believe, as I’ve written about before, that removing cars from the road in favor of personal electric vehicles is a huge step towards reworking our cities into nicer and more sustainable places to live.

Budgeting is always a touchy subject and everyone seems to have a better idea about where dollars should be spent, but putting money towards programs like these helps solve many problems at once. Old and polluting cars are removed from cities, improving air quality for everyone. Traffic is reduced by shifting commuters to smaller and more space-efficient vehicles. And electric bicycle companies and other personal electric vehicle companies receive a boost in business that helps them further invest in bringing more models and more accessibility to the market.

That’s a win-win-win.

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