BRATISLAVA, Slovakia ? The economy here may be in free fall, but anxiety about the future did not stop Vilo Hrivnak from driving his 12-year-old green hatchback to the junkyard a few days ago and promptly buying his first new car, a cappuccino-colored Skoda.
Like hundreds of thousands of car owners across Europe, Mr. Hrivnak was spurred to act by new government subsidies for drivers who junk their old jalopies ? in his case 2,000 euros, or $2,655 ? and trade up to a new model.
Slovakia is one of a nearly dozen European countries to unveil a so-called cash for clunkers plan in recent months, but the idea could soon get its biggest test yet in the United States, where President Obama endorsed a similar approach Monday to help beleaguered Detroit automakers.
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