Friday, January 06, 2006

Here's Some Happy News
Hybrid Theory

Directly from
Camry named best-selling car in U.S. again

The Camry's nearly perfect streak atop the car market stretches back to 1997, when it toppled Ford Motor Co.'s Taurus as America's best-selling car. ... 2005 figures showing it was the best-selling car in the United States for the fourth year in a row, and eight of the last nine years. It again topped the Accord and other mid-size competitors such as the Chevrolet Impala.
Why is this such happy, happy news? Because it bodes well for the coming of the Camry Hybrid later this year, which should give a boost to hybrid car sales (it looks like a sweet ride--check out these pics from Treehugger--but I'm still more of a hatchback kinda guy). And there's even some good news on the tax front for hybrid buyers--more tax breaks:
Hybrid cars are a good bet for tax breaks in 2006. The new year will bring more savings for buyers of at least 13 gas-electric vehicles, with those showing the most improvement in fuel efficiency securing bigger tax breaks for their new owners.

The breaks will come in the form of tax credits, and they range from $3,150 for buyers of the Toyota Prius to $250 for Chevrolet's Silverado pickup truck, according to an analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.


At least 13 vehicles in 2006 are expected to qualify for tax credits, which are determined by how much fuel efficiency is improved. Alternative-fuel cars can get credits, such as $3,600 for a natural gas-powered Honda Civic GX. Some states provide additional incentives to hybrid buyers.

Even buyers of hybrids that are less efficient than some gas-only vehicles would get breaks, including $650 for a four-wheel-drive Chevy Silverado. It only gets 17 mpg in the city, but that is still an improvement over the fuel efficiency of a gasoline-fueled Silverado.

Although a non-hybrid Volkswagen Jetta gets twice the mileage of the hybrid Silverado, the Jetta does not quality for the tax credit because its fuel efficiency did not improve enough to qualify.
But if you're thinking about purchasing a hybrid auto this year, sooner might be better than later:
A few months after a car maker has sold 60,000 hybrid vehicles, the tax credit begins phasing out, reducing the chance buyers late in the year will get the same break as those who buy in January or February.
You should also be wary if you (luckily) have a high income:
Buyers of Toyota's Prius, the bestselling hybrid vehicle in the United States, have tended to be relatively affluent, with median family incomes of almost $90,000 a year -- high for a midsize family car.

But, apparently unintentionally on the federal government's part, the new tax credits that took effect this year to encourage the sale of fuel-saving hybrids won't be available to many affluent families if they are among the growing numbers subject to the alternative minimum tax, accountants say.


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