• Mar 16, 2011
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 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 in coming 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.



Photos copyright ©2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 51 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ok, as a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid owner I have to say that this is STUPID! My mother was legally blind and she used her hearing and her dog to "see" traffic, but my hybrid is never quiet. Its called a fan, tire noise, radio etc. The blower motor can be heard from outside the vehicle as can the low rolling resistance tires. Who is this supposed to protect? The blind or the idiot behind the wheel? Ya know the one who can see who is supposed to be looking for pedestrians blind or otherwise.. Oh wait theyre probably to busy texting, applying make up, talking on the phone, scolding their kids, changing their clothes, reading, doing a crossword, playing with the radio, and the other million or so distractions people do when driving. I made a bumper sticker for my cars that says this Hang the F!!** up and DRIVE!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Can't image buying a car rigged so the a equivalent of a backup beeper sounds.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great, I've been trying to ignore hybrids and EVs these days, now they're going to be driving around making beeping sounds and star trek noises? Seems as though automakers and the government are admitting that these cars are dangerous because they're so quiet...I don't see beeping devices being mandated on cars with normal IC engines. Just adds to the list of why I think electric cars won't work.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah, because there really isn't much else going on that the US Guber-ment should be legitimately doing with their elected time, and our money that they have long since deficit spent.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm getting sick of this amphibious creature coming up on my damn screen
      • 3 Years Ago
      I thought the whole idea of noise comming from a battery powered car was a dumb idea until I was at as gas station recently and a Prius left the area. It was so quiet I didn't realize it crept behind me until it was passed.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I too share your confidence, Jared, that all drivers pay attention.


        • 3 Years Ago
        And it didn't hit you because the driver was paying attention. Disaster averted [rolleyes]
      • 3 Years Ago
      well this wouldn't be too bad if they gave you different engine sounds to choose from. for example, an f1 engine, ferrari, etc.
        • 3 Years Ago

        F1 sounds from a Smart car ? FAIL.
      • 3 Years Ago
      We need Uncle Obama protect us from ourself :=)
      • 3 Years Ago
      Now I am going to buy a hybrid and intentionally run over people with it. heh
      • 3 Years Ago
      We should at least get an insurance discount for having the EV alert enabled. Can they make mine sound like the Aflac duck?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nanny state mentality.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Modern cars already tend to be very quiet, I cannot see why these EV's require having the artificial sound. Most of the time you hear a car coming to you, its from the road noise from the tires...
        • 3 Years Ago

        BINGO XGM ! Excellent point.

        I work downtown and I can't tell you how many times I've turned to hear approaching tire noise with the acute absence of gears / pedals being pushed and lo' and behold it's an all electric cycle and I actually heard it without the need for ARTIFICIAL NOISE POLLUTION.

        And I'm hearing the tire noise from those little sub thousand dollar E-cycles that can't weigh more than 25 lbs. Imagine the road noise coming from a 3,800 lb Nissan Leaf ? Yeah we'd all hear it just fine.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @radical -
        The article includes the phrase "synthetic engine noise", which leads me to believe it makes the car sound like a car. Which is what you'd probably want. (better though if you could choose what car you wanted to sound like).
        • 3 Years Ago
        I agree 100% some cars you can hear the noise, but modern stuff, forget it, any around town driving and all you're going to hear is acceleration / tire noise. Granted maybe some blind people have better hearing than me but regulators can't count on that.

        Has anyone actually heard what the sound is like? I have to imagine that'd get really annoying to the driver.

        Have there been any studies about how effective this will actually be? I've never heard of blind people just aimlessly walking out into a road because it's quiet.
        • 3 Years Ago
        rllama,

        Yeah, I would make mine sound like a 1970 Chevelle with a 454 Hotrod cams and longtube headers!! I pull up to a light in my Volt with a nice loapy idle...
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