This was supposed to be a big year in the push for better auto fuel economy. Electric vehicles and hybrids were supposed to make giant strides in 2012.
It turned out to be a little spotty.
Cases in point:
- Consumer Reports and others claim the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid fall about 20 percent short of the fuel economy estimates posted on the window stickers. There is now a lawsuit over the claims.
- Ford saw its brave, new mpg-boosting EcoBoost technology challenged by recalls for the risk of engine fires in Escape crossovers and Fusion sedans with 1.6-liter turbocharged engines.
- Chevrolet continues to have a hard time selling the Volt plug-in hybrid.
- Earlier this year, the Volt had its own brief problems with onboard fires, which amounted more to bad public relations than bad technology.
- Nissan is having trouble selling the Leaf electric car.
- The Fisker Karma, one of the more exotic plug-in hybrids, caught fire on more than one occasion this year, sometimes while simply parked in a garage.
- Fisker also suspended work on a new model while it scrambles to raise more funds.
- Sales of Nissan's redesigned, segment-leading fuel-efficient Altima fell in November compared with deliveries of the old Altima a year before.
- It turns out Hyundai and Kia, the darlings of fuel efficiency gains a year ago, have been overstating mpg numbers on some models stretching back to the 2011 model year.
- Toyota had to recall 670,000 Prius hybrids for steering problems in November. Granted, they were older Priuses, but this is not really the sort of news you want out there when consumers are shopping for fuel economy.
- Consumer Reports also decided not to recommend Toyota's fuel-thrifty Prius C this year, complaining that the smallest of the Prius models is noisy and sluggish.