In the future, 2012 may be remembered as the year fuel economy rose to the forefront of the American auto industry.

President Obama announced the more-stringent CAFÉ standard of 54.5 miles per gallon earlier this year that carmakers must comply with by 2025. Meanwhile, car companies have practically tripped over themselves in rushing to develop fuel-efficient vehicles that run the gamut of their lineups, from small sedans to full-size pickups.

Records have been set throughout the year. Now comes another that trumps the rest.

Audi is building a four-seat vehicle that could return 282 miles per gallon, a company executive told Autocar. Wolfgang Durheimer, the company's head of technical development, tells the website the car is known internally as the 1.0-liter car and is based on the current A1 platform.

Earlier plans indicate it will rely on both a gas-powered engine and electric battery. Emphasis on early: Durheimer indicated that it will be at least three years before the car reaches customers.