To do nothing during the current economic crisis is not an option, President Obama said on Monday.
It may not be the total answer, but the scrappage incentives introduced in some European countries are a quick and relatively easy response to falling new-car sales.
And they are badly needed by an industry that is facing its worst downturn in a generation.
Investment bankers Goldman Sachs forecast that the western European market will fall 20 percent to 10.7 million cars this year. Clearly action is needed - and swiftly.
The German government has set aside 1.5 billion euros to fund the payouts of 2,500 euros to buyers who are trade in vehicles that are at least nine years old.
People with cars older than nine years are not usually new car buyers, but surely there are some among the estimated 16 million cars of that age in Germany that will be.
So far many of the people taking advantage are those who have never bought a new car before.
It is too early to tell what the actual take up will be, but dealers are already reporting increased activity in their showrooms.
Global Insight also thinks the incentive will raise the German market this year from a previously predicted 2.7 million to 2.9 million cars.
Forecasters R. L. Polk believes the incentive could add 100,000 to sales in France by 100,000, while the even more generous Italian scheme could add another 150,000 to 180,000 sales.
A Spanish incentive could stabilize a rapidly declining market, but the UK government is still considering its options.
This week Ingvar Sviggum, Ford of Europe's head of sales, said the UK should have a scheme - quickly.
Sviggum said: "I really hope we will see more of the same programs in other major markets like the UK."
They may not rescue the industry on its own - the crisis is too wide and deep for that - but the incentives could provide short-term respite for automakers by generating sales.
It's good for the dealers too. Many have seen their businesses threatened as sales collapse.
It may even help the environment by getting people to trade in their older, more polluting cars.
People are concerned about the environment, but that's a luxury many cannot afford when they also have to worry about their own economic wellbeing.
Scrappage incentives are not the long-term answer and not the answer on their own, but they are a clearly a start.
For governments to do nothing would only be to invite the disaster to become much worse.