Kia and Hyundai Settle Car Thefts Suit for $200M
Kia and Hyundai have reached a settlement worth approximately $200 million in a class-action lawsuit over car theft vulnerabilities. The agreement addresses claims that many of the automakers' vehicles are highly susceptible to theft. The settlement encompasses around 9 million owners of Hyundai or Kia vehicles produced between 2011 and 2022, featuring a traditional "insert-and-turn" steel key ignition system, as stated in a press release by the owners' lawyers.
Under the settlement, affected owners will receive compensation, including up to $145 million for out-of-pocket losses. Those who experienced vehicle theft can be reimbursed up to $6,125 for a total loss and up to $3,375 for damages to the vehicle and personal property, as well as related insurance expenses.
Despite the settlement, dealerships are still selling Hyundais and Kias that are susceptible to theft, which has made obtaining insurance challenging for owners.
The theft of the affected models has seen a surge in recent months, fueled by a hack method that gained popularity on social media. The rise in theft incidents coincides with a TikTok "challenge" demonstrating how to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles lacking basic security features. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has linked this trend to eight deaths.
In February, Kia and Hyundai announced plans to roll out software upgrades for the 8.3 million vehicles in the United States that lack engine immobilizers, a security feature that requires an electronic signal from the key to start the car. However, the companies faced mounting pressure to take more action to combat the thefts.
Several cities, including Seattle, St. Louis, Columbus, and Baltimore, filed lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai, citing the increase in theft incidents. Last month, attorneys general from 17 states and the District of Columbia urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a mandatory recall for the affected vehicles.
As part of the settlement agreement, the anti-theft software will be automatically added to vehicles during any dealership service appointment, according to a news release from the companies.
Jason Erb, Chief Legal Officer of Hyundai Motor North America, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to provide additional support to owners impacted by the rising incidents of criminal activity targeting their vehicles.