Chang-Ran Kim/Reuters/File
An assembly-line worker attaches the bumper onto the body of a Toyota Aqua, a hybrid car, at a factory of the automaker's subsidiary in Kanegasaki, Iwate prefecture, north of Japan in this March 2012 file photo. The best time to buy a fuel-efficient car is when gas prices are low, not when they're high, Voelcker writes.

Discounts for hybrids down in September

New data from CarWoo, a site that lets buyers anonymously get quotes on new cars, shows that discounts on several hybrid car models are among the lowest across all deals offered during September.

With gasoline at or above $4 a gallon in some states, buyers' thoughts are turning toward fuel economy.

If you're one of those buyers, and you're thinking about looking at hybrid cars, prepare yourself: You're not likely to get big discounts if you buy one.

New data from CarWoo, a site that lets buyers anonymously get quotes on new cars from dealers, shows that discounts on several hybrid models are among the lowest across all deals offered during September to potential buyers by its 10,000 auto dealers.

In fact, four of the 10 lowest-discount cars on the entire market are hybrids.

The low-discount hybrid models start with the newly-launched 2013 Lexus ES 300h hybrid, which averaged a discount of just 2.0 percent off the sticker price--putting it in second place on the Top 10 lowest discount list.

Only the Mazda CX-5 crossover carried less money off, at 1.8 percent. (All 10 of the lowest-discount vehicles were compacts or smaller, by the way.)

The new subcompact Toyota Prius C and the Honda CR-Z two-seat hybrid hatchback were in fifth and sixth place on the lowest-discount list, at about 2.6 percent off the Manufacturer's SuggestedStandard Retail Price (MSRP).

And the last of the four is the popular 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, carrying an average discount of 3.4 percent off the sticker price--tied for ninth place with the low-volume Audi A3 compact hatchback.

What cars seem to carry the highest discounts among CarWoo's dealers?

The short answer seems to be Nissan models, since that carmaker has four of the 10 most-discounted cars on the list, starting with the Maxima (19.2 percent) and Sentra (17.4 percent).

Those two cars had higher discounts offered by CarWoo's dealers than did any other models on the new-car market.

The Murano (14.6 perent) and Xterra (14.0 percent) occupied the sixth- and seventh-highest discount slots, respectively.

We can't say how many of these offers turned into signed purchase deals, but car dealers tend to have a keener sense of the market than any given buyer.

And this month's data proves, once again, the old adage: The best time to buy a fuel-efficient car is when gas prices are low.

Not when they're high.

Disclaimer: Carwoo is a business partner of High Gear Media, the parent company of Green Car Reports.

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