2010 Toyota Prius – Click above for high-res image gallery

The U.S. automotive market is in a rut the size of the Grand Canyon, but it's not alone. Most nations are experiencing lackluster sales, and the Japanese car market is experiencing its own free fall. As a direct result, Reuters is reporting that government authorities are looking at steps to help its domestic industry with a range of consumer subsidies for the purchase of efficient vehicles. Up to 300,000 yen ($3,000 US) in breaks are available for buyers of electric or hybrid vehicles, along with gas and diesel engines that reach certain clean air and efficiency standards.

Among the monetary incentives on the table is a 100,000 yen ($1,000 U.S.) subsidy for the purchase of a kei-class mini vehicle with a 660 cc or smaller powerplant. Larger vehicles that qualify under the plan would receive twice that amount. Car buyers in the Land of the Rising Sun would also eligible to receive an additional 100,000 yen if they turn in a 13-year-old (or older) vehicle for a vehicle that applies under the plan. Japanese officials are reportedly looking to institute the subsidies by summertime, with the assistance available through March 2010. The initiative will reportedly be announced as part of a larger Japanese stimulus package later this April.


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[Source: Reuters]