Hybrids No Longer Hip

Time might be right to haggle with your local Prius dealer

With gas prices significantly lower than last summer, car dealerships are finding it difficult to sell the trendy but spendy gas-electric hybrids on their lots.

The good news is, that means it may be a "better than ever" time to buy.

Sales of hybrids in February were down two-thirds compared to sales in April of 2008, and January sales were the lowest since 2005.

Yet automakers have been increasing production, partly to meet last year's spike in demand and partly to meet the demands of government regulators.

All of which means deals aplenty for car buyers.

Want to drive the hulking Chevy Tahoe hybrid that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is chauffeured around in? A Michigan dealer is offering $6,000 cash back.

Buyers can also take advantage of tax credits for American-built hybrids that were included in the recent federal stimulus package.

Even in the greener-than-thou Bay Area, there are bargains to be had.

Berkeley resident Chad Gallagher bought a Prius for $5,000 under sticker price last month. "We got the touring package, leather seats, navigation, Bluetooth, everything," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Jackson West is gonna stick with riding Muni for now.

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