The Sonata Hybrid went on sale in limited numbers this past December (one month before the Optima Hybrid’s planned release in January) and was eligible for a $1,300 tax credit. The car had been delayed until a few weeks ago, in early March. Right now, there are about 900 Sonata Hybrids in the U.S., with another 650 en route from South Korea. Hyundai is now promising even larger quantities of Sonata Hybrids by the end of April, according to Ward’s.
The Sonata Hybrid has an EPA rating of 35/40 mpg city/highway; the Optima Hybrid should be similarly rated.
The Sonata Hybrid was delayed to alter the vehicle’s virtual engine sound, Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson said. Earlier hybrid owners could turn the system off, but the noisemaker is now modified to stay on permanently.
Hyundai is trying to stay one step ahead of a bill signed by President Barack Obama that requires noisemakers in hybrids and electric cars, says Ward’s. The recently released 2012 Infiniti M35h is one of the first vehicles with a permanent noisemaker system. The Nissan Leaf has a similar system, but you can turn it off.
Hyundai Promises Late-April Sonata Hybrid Surge; Kia Hybrid Delayed Further (Wards Automotive)