• Feb 24, 2011
2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery

In mid-October, Hyundai announced that its 2011 Sonata Hybrid would be eligible for a $1,300 tax credit. The electrified mid-size sedan was to officially hit U.S. dealerships in late 2010 and the first 60,000 buyers in line to plop down some cash for the Sonata Hybrid would've pocketed that credit. However, there was a hitch: the Sonata Hybrid was delayed, dashing any chance of snagging the $1,300 credit.

What caused the delay? Well, according to Hyundai chief executive officer John Krafcik, a last-minute modification to the vehicle's "virtual engine sound" system, made "amazingly late in the process" was the culprit. The automaker initially developed the Sonata Hybrid with a feature that would allow drivers to disable the vehicle's pedestrian warning system, but after the Senate and House voted to approve a measure requiring hybrids and plug-in vehicles to automatically emit audible sounds at low speeds, Hyundai's manual disable functionality had to be axed.

According to Green Car Reports, that modification required changes to the vehicle's wiring harnesses, user-interface software and owner's manual, which caused the lengthy delay. Hyundai delivered the first 2011 Sonata Hybrid in January.



Photos copyright ©2010 Zach Bowman / AOL

[Source: Green Car Reports]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      This all sounds like a lame excuse for a number of reasons:
      1. The law does not take effect for 3 years, so there is no reason Hyundai had to hold up production to comply with the law, they could have kept their warning system as is and updated as needed the next model year.
      2. The law requires DOT to come up with a warning sound standard, so Hyundai will once again have to update the software to comply with the regulation, whatever they have now is very likely non-compliant.

      More likely they got negative feedback with consumer testing and had go back to the drawing board to make it more appealing (again, will be irrelevant once the standard comes out).

      • 3 Years Ago
      The US legislature putting up costs and causing delay? Who would have guessed?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yes, that do gooder John Karrey is out to score some more do gooder points. Striking a blow for the oil corps. Wonder if the Blind Federation was paid off by the oil industry yet.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't think there has been any reported "accidents" with the Prius Hybrid, which is as silent as they come. So I don't understand what all the fuss is about.
      • 3 Years Ago
      To think that this flubdub noisemaker law could cause so much trouble...
      • 3 Years Ago
      How dare you!

      How dare you question the wisdom of those wise and great statesmen and women, toiling away in the Congress to pass important legislation such as this bill, for the good of the public weal!

      By God, it's people like you who don't deserve the great tradition of Congressional deliberation!

      It was always a great mistake to allow a relaxation of the law requiring a man with a red flag, to walk in front of a horseless carriage!

      By the way, we would just like a little information about you for our files?

      I'd castigate you further, but I've got these pesky auditors into lobby payments to get rid of from my office before my grand jury appearance.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's also a law that I have to turn my lights on when I drive at night. But that's not automatic. Virtual engine sound is BS. We might as well be required to have a man with a lantern and a red flag walk in front of the vehicle.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_flag_laws
        • 3 Years Ago
        Making a law to make all the other vehicles quiter would be far more useful in my opinion.
        As many people have already pointed out a large number of cars already on the road are to all intents and purposes silent at low speed anyway due to being quiter than the background noise, certainly my Honda Civic is like this, but then I drive very carefully at low speed and use the horn when required... the answer is to lower this background noise, not add to it.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The noise would not have to be loud or intrusive, but even the sighted can be caught out by silent approaching traffic.
        I have more often nearly walked out in front of a bike than a car. That is part of the reason reversing is so dangerous, as the engine is running at such low power that noise is minimal.
        In general I feel that too much attention has been paid to the convenience of motorists, and not enough to pedestrians.
        Of course the noise should not be too loud and intrusive.

        Perhaps it is worth noting that had the proposals for having a man walking in front of every car with a flag been retained it would have saved far more lives than the US lost in all it's wars in the twentieth century! ;-)
        • 3 Years Ago
        Well that took some courage David Martin. You like noise pollution? Lets play fair. Many Toyota's, Cadillacs and other vehicles should have this exact sound coming out of them as they are just as quiet. Stupidest law ever! The auto industry spent 100 years and countless dollars attempting to make the vehicles quiet and when they finally succeed, bam, uncle sam is there with some drummed up hypothetical problem that could have easily been overcome with a tad of technology. Oh contraire Mr Martin, oh contrare!
        • 3 Years Ago
        I actually agree with making electric vehicles emit sound at low speed.
        Causing months of delay by not getting their act together earlier is the costly and unnecessary bit IMO.