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.