2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in HybridEnlarge Photo
If you're relying on state tax breaks to get you behind the wheel of a brand new hybrid, we have one piece of advice: Do it soon.
Several states have already cut their rebate schemes and a bunch more are about to follow down the same path, which is soon to make hybrid vehicles a more expensive proposition.
Blame the poor economy and large budget deficits, says New Jersey Republican state Senator Tony Bucco, speaking with USA Today. "Good bills, wrong timing... when we're down on revenues, it's a little difficult to give out additional credits and rebates."
Tax incentives work well in a strong economy, where people may be tempted to stretch to more expensive vehicles like some hybrids, putting more money into the economy. However, in times of financial unease it becomes harder to justify giving people tax breaks.
Federal tax credits for hybrids actually disappeared a while ago to be replaced by incentives aimed at full electric cars, but many states continued with their own credit system for hybrid vehicles.
Connecticut, Washington, South Carolina and New Mexico have already cancelled their tax exemption and credit schemes for hybrids and fuel efficient vehicles. New Jersey is looking to follow, by cancelling its 7 percent sales tax exemption on hybrids, making some cars thousands of dollars more expensive. The same has already happened in California, where the $4.1 million Clean Vehicle Rebate Project dried up a few months back.
It's a short term solution and one that worries a lot of people, with lower hybrid sales pointing towards increased emissions and gasoline use at a time when the opposite is being encouraged.