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2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid was supposed to begin reaching customers late in 2010, but a last-minute change prevented that from happening. The battery-packing Sonata was originally fitted with an on/off switch to disable the synthetic engine audio that would come on whenever the vehicle was being driven under electric power, but a forthcoming regulation changed that.

Hyundai ordered a last-minute change deleting the switchgear because of a bill passed by Congress (and later signed by President Obama) that made non-defeatable noise-making devices mandatory for hybrids and EVs. Automotive News reports that the ball is now in the court of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the agency plans to set a proper timetable in the next three years.

While the law banning the EV alert noise on/off switch will likely stop automakers from adding the switch in the future, we're thinking NHTSA should still act fast to come up with a date. The move would help automakers to know what they can and can't do, preventing more product delays in the future.


2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid front 3/4 view
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid front 3/4 view
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid rear 3/4 view
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid emblem
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid badge
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid rear detail
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid taillight
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid engine
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid interior
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid door controls
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  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid door trim

Photos copyright ©2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope NHTSA drags their feet on this... for several years.
      I also hope it ends up getting enforced proportionally to the value of the law ...
      less than J walking... less than littering ... less than ticketing people for parking in the fire lane in front of grocery stores ... less than driving while txting ... less than arresting high school kids for smoking ... less then they ticket fellow police officers for violating traffic laws when not responding to an emergency... etc.... etc...

      Yeah when they have enforced all those other things 100% and are just looking around for something to do to pass the time ... sure that is the low level of enforcement priority I would give it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Given it has Congress backing, it's probably going to be quick.
        They haven't even done enough research to verify this is even going to result in any statistically significant improvement in traffic safety (NTHSA did a report but it wasn't able to conclusively say this was even a big issue), esp given they made this standard discriminating on technology rather than on the dB level of the cars. It's absolutely maddening to me.

        My only hope is it is completely undetectable in the cabin, or it'll be very annoying and totally ruin one of the best advantages of hybrids and EVs. I wouldn't be complaining if they were fair and required it for quiet luxury cars too (equally ruining them), but they didn't. Even then, the noise pollution it causes will be very annoying as a pedestrian.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'll say it again...

      The driver isn't blind, so use the horn.... Problem solved. I have no idea why this law has even gotten as far as it has. Please spend your time trying to figure out bigger issues like the economy and energy crisis than putting whistle tips on EVs...

      Whistle Tip Video for Reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnzw_i4YmKk
        • 4 Years Ago
        The whistles go whoooooo whoooooooo!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Bingo - Stew is correct. This has nothing to do with protecting the blind and everything to do with sabotaging the adoption of EV's. This is not the first law trying to derail EV's nor will it be the last.

      The next attack on EV's will probably entail some sort of penalty tax (probably rolled into the vehicle excise tax or yearly registration fee) to punish EV drivers for not paying gas taxes.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What's amazing is that it was unanimously passed by the Senate.

        I repeat - UNANIMOUSLY - passed by the Senate.

        When was the last time those guys bilaterally did anything? And then they go and do it on such a stupid thing. The other problem is it was pushed through extremely fast, even had debate ruled out so this thing could be shoved through. I wrote to my Senators and Representatives & the President, but it was passed even before they got around to reading or replying to my emails.

        If only we could get this kind of action on things that really matter, like killing oil company subsidies.
      • 4 Years Ago
      required sound in the USA, prohibited sound in UK – globalisation rules…
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well it's a darn shame because I will NOT buy any vehicle equipped with a noisemaker that can't be shut off. And before anyone says "just cut the speaker wires", let me just say that EV drivers should not be put in a position where we have to become criminals in order to enjoy our vehicles.

      To hell with that. I'll stick to quiet ICE vehicles. They may not be as green as EV's but at least they don't emit noise pollution. Plus they're more versatile, capable, and cheaper as well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Politicians deserve to be classified as a special sort of idiot. And required to drive 1979 Oldsmobile diesels.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Feds pondering banning electric vehicle alert noise shutoff"

      Translation: Feds want to make EVs so annoying that would-be buyers are turned off by them keeping the oil money flowing in and maintaining the status quo.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What I don't get is that the law already states the user cannot defeat the noise:

        "...shall prohibit manufacturers from providing any mechanism for anyone other than the manufacturer or the dealer to disable, alter, replace, or modify the sound or set of sounds, except that the manufacturer or dealer may alter, replace, or modify the sound or set of sounds in order to remedy a defect or non-compliance with the motor vehicle safety standard."

        So what the hell are they pondering?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Before I took delivery, I envisioned using the on/off switch provided in my LEAF all the time. But the reality is that I haven't used it once - the pedestrian warning sound just isn't anywhere near as noticeable in the passenger cabin as I thought it would be.
        • 4 Years Ago
        But you're probably quite a sensible fellow. It's very hard getting set-in moron stains out of the LEAF's paintwork.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mandated noise maker. Mandated helmet, seat belt, air bags, tire pressure sensor, 5mph bumpers, 3 tail lamps, ignition shut off switch, etc, etc, etc.

        Big Government demands to be your nanny, then your conscience, your prosecutor and executioner.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Michael Walsh: I'm glad it's quiet for you in the car.

        For me, on the sidewalk, it's a nuisance. And when I cross the road I'm quite happy to look each way, because I don't want to get run down by a bicycle.

        Get rid of the damn noise.
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