A German government telephone hotline has been swamped with enquiries regarding new scrapping incentives.

Local media reported that 270,000 phoned the hotline on Monday and 150,000 on Tuesday seeking access to a EUR2,500 incentive to anyone scrapping a car more than nine years old and buying a new vehicle.

The scheme will run until the budgeted EUR1.5bn has been allocated but some are saying that all the funding could be used up within days. It is expected to put 600,000 new cars on to the roads.

The incentives can be used for orders for new cars placed since 14th January. To avoid abuse, the incentives must also be used quickly – not kept for future use – and may not be traded with other car owners. Claiming the incentive involves significant bureaucracy, including proof that the vehicle has been properly scrapped and appropriate parts recycled.

The German vehicle manufacturers association, Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), calculates that if the scrapping incentives are successful in reducing the average age of the car fleet by one year, it could represent a saving of 2m tonnes of CO2 each year.