Look back a few years, and the Federal government under President George Bush offered buyers of hybrid cars up to $3,400 in tax credits for buying an electric car. 

As of December 31, 2010, those tax credits expired, to make way for similar tax credits for those who buy fully electric or plug-in hybrid cars. 

For some time, the French Government has followed a similar plan of offering state subsidies to buyers of electric and hybrid cars, ranging from €2,000 ($2,400) to €4,000 ($4,800). 

Recently however, those subsidies have been increased in an effort to get more French car drivers making the switch to cleaner cars. 

Soon, anyone buying an electric car in France will get an impressive €7,000 ($8,500) in subsidies towards its purchase, while hybrid car drivers will be able to claim up to €5,000 ($6,900) in assistance.

Hybrids still a niche

Here’s the problem: while hybrid cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius are much cheaper than they once were, they are still more expensive than a similarly-sized gasoline car.

Despite a better gas mileage, the extra sticker shock of a hybrid car means many buyers steer clear. 

2012 Toyota Prius C

2012 Toyota Prius C

Even taking into account the recent rise in hybrid car sales -- due in part to the launches of the new 2012 Toyota Prius C subcompact and 2012 Toyota Prius V Wagon -- hybrid car sales in the U.S. account for a tiny proportion of all new cars sold. 

Electrics too far for some...

Which leads us to electric and plug-in hybrid cars. 

Even more expensive to buy, pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars are too expensive for many car buyers, despite being eligible for various Federal and state purchase incentives. 

For many car buyers too, especially ones in more rural areas, buying a pure electric car would be outside of their comfort zone, while a hybrid car represents a more gradual step away from a traditional gasoline car. 

...but hybrids lead the way to electric

As data collected from General Motors suggests, many Prius owners are trading their hybrid cars in for the 2012 Volt Plug-in Hybrid.

By encouraging more car buyers to make the switch to hybrid, the experience of owning a hybrid car means a car buyer is more likely to then purchase a plug-in hybrid or purely electric car. 

Are they needed?

2011 Honda Insight

2011 Honda Insight

At the moment, more Americans than ever before are buying hybrid cars. 

But would the reintroduction of hybrid car incentives help you to make the switch to a hybrid car? 

And how much do you think is appropriate? 

Let us know in the Comments below.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.