Not Your Average Car Donation Program

SHiFT stands out

Car donation programs are nothing new. Programs have collected vehicles since the 1990s and sold them at auto auctions, where they are bought wholesale by auto recyclers, exporters, and occasionally used car dealerships.

The net profits from these sales are what is donated to benefit the pre-determined charity. The typical donation program’s responsibility ends there, with the sale of the vehicle to a third party. 

SHiFT breaks from traditional car donation programs in that it goes beyond simply raising money for charities. SHiFT is first and foremost a program focused on retiring vehicles in the most environmentally-conscious way possible. Like no other program of its kind, SHiFT ensures that the highest-polluting vehicles are retired from U.S. roadways and properly recycled.

Generally speaking, whoever’s hands the vehicle lands in after an auto auction determines not only how effectively the vehicle’s parts and materials are recycled for reuse, but also how clean the process of disassembly itself is. For this reason, SHiFT acts as a funnel, ensuring that all vehicles are sold exclusively to Certified Auto Recyclers within the ARA network. 

 All vehicles eligible for the SHiFT program are permanently removed from U.S. roadways by requiring the recycler to dismantle and recycle the carbon-emitting engines. Ensuring the retirement of these vehicles is of particular importance as vehicles typically donated are most often the oldest, and therefore the highest polluting vehicles on U.S. roadways.  

Eligibility standards for the SHiFT program should ensure that vehicles are not retired from the road prematurely. On this topic John Sterman, MIT Sloan professor, states the following, “To meet 2050 climate goals, it’s not enough to promote the purchase of new EVs. We must also accelerate the retirement of existing fossil-powered vehicles.” 

While this sentiment is mostly spot-on, it is important to note that phasing out gas engines will be a long process; It’s important that it is done on a time-scale that ensures emissions are minimized. 

Many may not realize that car donation programs are an essential intermediary within the life cycle of a vehicle, responsible for getting vehicles to the right people at the end of their useful life. Unlike other donation programs, SHiFT, in collaboration with the Automotive Recyclers’ Association, has a network of only the very best recyclers in the nation.

Ultimately, the scale of vehicle ownership and with that, vehicles in need of EOL treatment, makes it such that how we retire these larger assets greatly impacts transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.  

SHiFT is about responsibility. Every SHiFT vehicle directly supports the Auto Recycling Training Institute’s efforts to train the next generation of auto recyclers.

 It’s about pushing the auto recycling industry to go further. It’s about pushing consumers towards considering the environment as a regular factor in decision-making. It’s about how our actions today affect the potential for a better personal transportation option in the future.