Silver Hyundai Sonata Hybrid front three-quarter view

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced a safety recall of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, but this campaign comes with a twist. NHTSA announced on its website that Sonata Hybrid models produced between December 2, 2010 and March 7, 2012 are being recalled due to a seatbelt issue. NHTSA announced that the rear center belt, which incorporates a release mechanism that detaches both the lap and shoulder portion at the lower anchor point, doesn't meet safety standards.

Of the 14,728 units potentially covered under the recall, Hyundai will repair the 1,633 Sonata Hybrid models currently sitting on dealer lots. But here is where the catch comes into play: The government agency says Hyundai plans to file a petition for a recall exemption for those vehicles already delivered to their owners because it believes the action is "inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety." Hyundai will not have to send out recall notices to the 13,095 Sonata Hybrid models already on the road until after the petition has been resolved. Hit the jump to read over the NHTSA press release.
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Vehicle Make / Model: Model Year(s):
HYUNDAI / SONATA 2011-2012
Manufacturer: HYUNDAI-KIA AMERICA TECHNICAL CENTER INC Mfr's Report Date: MAR 08, 2012
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 12V098000 NHTSA Action Number: N/A
Component: SEAT BELTS:REAR
Potential Number of Units Affected: 14,728

Summary:
CERTAIN MODEL YEAR HYUNDAI SONATA HYBRID VEHICLES PRODUCED BEGINNING ON DECEMBER 2, 2010, AND SHIPPED TO DEALERS THROUGH MARCH 7, 2012, THAT ARE EQUIPPED WITH A CENTER REAR SEAT BELT INCORPORATING A RELEASE MECHANISM THAT DETACHES BOTH THE LAP AND SHOULDER PORTION AT THE LOWER ANCHORAGE POINT, FAIL TO CONFORM TO FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208, "OCCUPANT CRASH PROTECTION."

Consequence: SEE NOTES.

Remedy:
Hyundai dealers are replacing the center rear seat belts in Sonata hybrid vehicles currently in dealer inventory with center rear seat belts that are not detachable from the lower anchorage point prior to delivery to customers.

Notes:
HYUNDAI DEALERS ARE REPLACING THE CENTER REAR SEAT BELTS IN APPROXIMATELY 1,633 SONATA HYBRID VEHICLES CURRENTLY IN DEALER INVENTORY WITH CENTER REAR SEAT BELTS THAT ARE NOT DETACHABLE FROM THE LOWER ANCHORAGE POINT PRIOR TO DELIVERY TO CUSTOMERS. FOR THE APPROXIMATELY 13,095 VEHICLES THAT HAVE BEEN DELIVERED TO CUSTOMERS, HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY INTENDS TO FILE A PETITION FOR AN EXEMPTION FROM THE RECALL REQUIREMENTS OF THE NATIONAL TRAFFIC AND MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY ACT ON THE BASIS THAT THE NONCOMPLIANCE DESCRIBED IS INCONSEQUENTIAL AS IT RELATES TO MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY. THEREFORE, THE MANUFACTURER IS NOT OBLIGATED TO CONDUCT AN OWNER NOTIFICATION AND REMEDY CAMPAIGN UNTIL NHTSA HAS RESOLVED THIS PETITION. IF THE PETITION IS DENIED, THE MANUFACTURER WILL BE NOTIFIED AND MUST THEN UNDERTAKE ITS NOTIFICATION AND REMEDY CAMPAIGN OBLIGATIONS.