Green Car Reports Scorecard: 3 Stories We Got Right In 2014, 3 We Didn't

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2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Los Angeles, August 2012

2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid, Los Angeles, August 2012

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We published roughly 1,800 stories on Green Car Reports this year, covering everything from fuel economy (it's rising) to electric cars (there are more on sale than ever).

Every news site strives for 100-percent accuracy, but very few reach that mark.

That's why there are Retractions sections in newspapers and magazines, and updates shown by using strikethrough wording in online stories.

We thought we'd take a look at three stories that Green Car Reports got right this year--and three where we clearly didn't.

First, the ones we think we got right.

2015 Ford C-Max Hybrid

2015 Ford C-Max Hybrid

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(1) Ford Cuts Gas Mileage On 6 Models: What You Need To Know, And Open Questions (Jun 2014)

In terms of practical information for car buyers, we have to rank this as one of our top stories--and a theme Green Car Reports has focused on since the launch of the first 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid in mid-2012.

We wrote our first story about the C-Max not hitting its gas-mileage rating back in November of that year, and followed it up with several thereafter. That model had been launched in autumn 2012 with EPA ratings of 47 mpg for the combined, city, and highway cycles.

Sure enough, in August 2013, Ford said the 2013 C-Max Hybrid rating would be reduced to 43 mpg combined (45 mpg city, 40 mpg highway).

But many C-Max buyers still weren't getting even the new, lower 43-mpg rating--let alone the 47-mpg rating on the Fusion Hybrid, or the electric ranges indicated for the Energi plug-in hybrid versions of those cars.

In the end, after a thorough investigation, Ford reached an agreement with the EPA this past June to cut ratings on no fewer than six models. Among them, the C-Max Hybrid received a second downgrade, to a combined 40 mpg--a number that reflects what many owners say is their real-world efficiency.

Open question remains

The latest 2015 C-Max ads barely mention gas mileage, focusing instead of softer and happier lifestyle images.

But one question remains unanswered.

The development and test engineers clearly had to know what kind of gas mileage they were getting in their tens of thousands of miles of real-world prototype driving.

So at what level of Ford management was the decision made to ignore real-world data and go with what the (flawed) lab calculations and models said was the gas mileage?

We suspect Ford will never answer that question--at least not to the media.

2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, Newport Beach, CA, Nov 2014

2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, Newport Beach, CA, Nov 2014

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(2) 10 Questions On Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Cars To Ask Toyota, Honda & Hyundai (Oct 2014)

OK, this isn't necessarily one where we proved right in face of opposition. But we have to rank it as one of our more significant pieces this year.

It simply presented--in as neutral a fashion as possible--10 different concerns raised over the upcoming spate of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

It got its start in discussions with a new member of the PR staff at an automaker with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle plans (that'd be Toyota, Honda, or Hyundai).

That person knew nothing of the issues around fuel-cell vehicles, nor of the kinds of questions that might arise as promotion intensified.

After writing up the questions, we decided to submit them formally to each of the three carmakers. To our surprise, all three submitted answers, as did the California Fuel-Cell Partnership.

We summarized and reproduced the gist of those answers in a further three articles:

Part 1: Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Car Questions: Toyota, Honda & Hyundai Respond (Part 1)

Part 2: Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Car Questions: Toyota, Honda & Hyundai Respond (Part 2)

Part 3: Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Car Questions: Toyota, Honda & Hyundai Respond (Part 3)

Together, the entire series proved surprisingly popular for what could be viewed as arcane and futuristic questions of energy policy and technology alternatives.

But we remain pleased that we did the series, and at the attraction it received.

2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Bear Mountain, May 2014

2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, Bear Mountain, May 2014

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(3) Further Crackdowns On Diesel Emissions Only A Matter Of Time? (Oct 2014)

This article proved prescient in suggesting that even after modern emission standards are adopted for diesel engines in Europe--by far their largest market--the combustion technology may face additional hurdles.

Just two months after the article--and as the Euro 6 emission limits come into effect in the European Union--France announced that it would ban use of the dirtiest diesels and adopt a long-term goal of phasing out diesel fuel for road use altogether.

France currently builds more electric cars than any other European country, and it hopes to expand on its zero-emission vehicle production.

But while such a goal may be decades away, diesels continue to face challenges outside their core European market.

Among them, the price difference between gasoline and diesel fuel has soared in the U.S. as gas prices have fallen.

That makes the economics of diesels--which are more expensive to buy and have pricier fuel--harder to justify even given their sometimes far better fuel economy.

Diesel vehicles continue to have their fans, but thus far in the U.S., they seem to do much better in trucks than in passenger cars.

One example: the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which has the highest fuel-efficiency rating of any full-size pickup truck, has proven so popular that production will be doubled in the coming year.

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