LONDON (AP) – The British government is considering giving consumers a cash bonus to trade in their old cars and buy new ones in an effort to help the country’s ailing automotive industry, newspapers reported Sunday.

A similar plan in Germany has given auto sales there a big boost, with one German auto industry group saying that new car registrations in the country in March soared to their highest level since 1992, thanks to the bonus.

France has introduced a similar incentive, and the U.S. Congress is developing its own version of the plan, dubbed “cash for clunkers.”

Proponents say the plan gives consumers a chance to swap their old autos for newer and often more fuel efficient ones, while stimulating the struggling international auto industry.

Critics say the plan merely delays the pain while draining government coffers.

There were conflicting reports in the U.K. media about how committed the government was to the car bonus plan.

The Sunday Times of London, citing unidentified government sources, said the government would endorse the $2,900-a-car plan during its budget, due to be announced on April 22.

The Sunday Telegraph said the government had rejected the plan.

The media did not give the age and condition the old cars would have to have to qualify for the bonus.

Germany currently gives out a euro 2,500 bonus to owners who scrap cars at least nine years old.

Britain’s Treasury office did not immediately return several telephone calls seeking comment on the reports.


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