Chevrolet Volt
Chevrolet Volt
Volt shot out of the blocks early in the year with a blast of publicity that would rival Lady Gaga's. After snagging a flock of car-of-the-year awards, GM's bold technological leap seemed poised to set the world on fire. Unfortunately, its batteries did just that in certain accident conditions. The negative fallout -- combined with a month-long production halt in the middle of the year to boost output -- kept a damper on sales. After moving only about 6,200 for the first 11 months of 2011, GM admitted it would fall far short of its goal of selling 10,000 Volts in its first year.

By Alex Taylor III, senior editor-at-large @FortuneMagazine - Last updated December 19 2011: 5:46 AM ET
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