The hybrid tax credit running out for Toyota this year, Honda next year

Dollar bill sticking out of gas tank

If you're in the market for a hybrid car, now is an excellent time to buy.

That's now as in "right now."

If you wait too much longer, you might miss an excellent opportunity to save thousands on some hybrid models.

Federal tax tax incentives to buy one of Toyota's energy-efficient cars or trucks are expiring soon.

If you're after a Honda, you have a bit longer.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended tax credits to consumers who purchase vehicles using advanced fuel-saving technology, including gas-electric hybrids.

The credits deducted directly from your income-tax bill, not your taxable income replaced an existing $2,000 tax deduction, and went into effect in January 2006.

The credits are based on projected fuel efficiency and vary by manufacturer and model, ranging from $250 for a Chevrolet Silverado pickup to $3,150 for the Toyota Prius sedan.

Look below to see the Internal Revenue Service's most recent list of which vehicles qualify for the credit, and for how much.

There is one caveat, however.

Although the credits extend to 2010, only 60,000 vehicles from each manufacturer are eligible. After that, the credits are phased out.

Toyota, with its popular Prius and new hybrid Camry models, has been the runaway leader in hybrid sales, and reached its cap in May.

That means all Toyota and Lexus brand hybrids sold after Oct. 1 have had their credit cut in half.

The credit will be reduced by half again on April 1, 2007 and disappear entirely in October 2007.

Since most Toyota dealerships are putting Prius buyers on a 60- to 90-day waiting list, you need to get your order in very soon if you want to take delivery before the Oct. 1 deadline.

Honda is expected to reach its 60,000-unit cap sometime in 2007, according to the New York Times.

Ford has sold only 15,000 units of its Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner SUVs, and recently announced plans to refocus its efforts on alternative-fuel technology.

Here's is the most recent list of hybrids that qualify for the federal tax credit: 

* 2006 Honda Accord Hybrid AT and Navi AT without updated calibration qualify for a credit of $650.

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