Hyundai: Not so fast on Volt, Leaf

After the three finalists for the North American Car of the Year were announced, many publications automatically assumed that one of the two new electric vehicles – either the Chevrolet Volt or Nissan Leaf – would walk away with the trophy. But Hyundai, the maker of the third finalist, the 2011 Sonata, is pointing out that its vehicle shouldn't be counted out just yet.

In a statement released to USA Today's "Drive On" blog, Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor lightly chastised the blog and other websites for essentially predicting victory for the new Volt, by talking up the Sonata's features while denigrating the two competitors' slow sales.

"You'll never have to worry about 'range anxiety' in a Sonata," he said. "And it must be worth something that customers have already taken delivery of almost 200,000 Sonatas – this while at least one other finalist is talking about their first two deliveries. The positive environmental impact of 200,000 high-fuel-efficiency Sonatas far outweighs that of a niche car that will sell around 10,000 units – about half of what we do each month."

Trainor also pointed out that the Sonata comes in three different versions, including the base, turbo and hybrid options.

Drivers interested in any of these models may want to wait until the vehicles hit the used car market, as they might be able to get a great deal on a Car of the Year candidate.