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 March 20, 2006 8:58 AM


This may be the best year to buy a hybrid car.  There are tax credits and more models available than in years past.  Last year the Federal Government offered a tax deduction which could save the buyer money, but not nearly as much as a credit.  Unlike tax deductions, tax credits are deducted directly from your taxes, not your income.  Typically, tax credits will save more money. 

Recently Consumer Reports sent their Auto Issue which included a claim that none of the new hybrids cars could save the buyer money over a five year period.  After the issues were sent to their subscribers, Consumer Reports admitted they were wrong.  They now say that the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrids can save purchasers money over five years.  Evidently their calculations were erroneous.

Hybrid car savings may be tough to calculate.  Buyers can save more money if they do their driving around town.  Unlike regular cars, hybrids do not burn gas while stopped. If you have a long commute in stop and go traffic, a hybrid car may be the one for you.

There are other advantages to hybrids.  For instance, all gas cars need to pass a smog check.  Since hybrids have zero emissions at idle, they will always pass that portion of the test (if your state requires the smog checks).  Also, if gas prices skyrocket, hybrid owners may save a fortune. 

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