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Hyundai and Kia agree to a US$200 million settlement over car thefts in the US

By Kenny Yeo - on 19 May 2023, 10:08am

Hyundai and Kia agree to a US$200 million settlement over car thefts in the US

(Image source: Reuters)

Hyundai and Kia have both agreed to a US$200 million settlement in the US regarding a class-action lawsuit that's related to a slew of car thefts that's inspired by challenges on TikTok.

A group of thieves known as the "the Kia Boyz" posted instructional videos on TikTok and YouTube showing how easy it is to pass by the security systems of certain Hyundai and Kia models using tools as basic as a USB cable.

This led to the so-called "Kia Challenge" on social media which, according to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), has led to hundreds of thefts across the US, and at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities.

According to reports, these thefts are possible only because many Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2015 and 2019 lack an electronic immobilizer. This feature is standard equipment on nearly all vehicles and it prevents thieves from breaking in and simply bypassing the ignition.

The settlement is said to apply to around 9 million vehicles that lack push-button ignition and anti-theft immobilisers, and it also includes up to US$145 million for out-of-pocket losses for customers who had their cars stolen.

Earlier this year, both companies offered free software updates to extend the length of the car alarm from 30 seconds to a minute, and to require a key in the ignition before the vehicle could be turned on.

For customers whose vehicles cannot accommodate these updates, Hyundai and Kia will provide up to US$300 for owners to purchase steering wheel locks and other theft-prevention devices.

According to a report by the Verge, this social media challenge led to a huge spike in the thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

For example, in Milwaukee alone, from 2020 to 2021, the numbers of Kias and Hyundais stolen shot up from 469 and 426 to 3,557 and 3,406 respectively

We have reached out to Kia and Hyundai in Singapore to ask how this would affect owners here and will update this article once we know more.

Source: Reuters, The Verge

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