Now an update to a story we've been following for months and that's vehicle thefts involving certain 2011-2022 Hyundai and Kia models.
Hyundai, Kia Class Action Vehicle Theft Settlement
Hyundai Motor America and Kia America recently announced that they have entered an agreement to resolve class action litigation with owners of vehicles that don't have push-button start and the anti-theft devices.
The agreement could total around $200 million dollars. That will depend, they say, on how many customers decide to participate. The automakers say the deal would provide compensation in cash to owners who incurred theft-related vehicle losses or damage not covered by insurance. It would also provide reimbursement for insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums and other theft-related losses.
"We appreciate the opportunity to provide additional support for our owners who have been impacted by increasing and persistent criminal activity targeting our vehicles," said Jason Erb, chief legal officer, Hyundai Motor North America. "Customer security remains a top priority, and we're committed to continuing software upgrade installations and steering wheel lock distribution to help prevent thefts and offering insurance options through AAA for those who have had difficulty securing and sustaining coverage."
"Kia is very pleased that today's announcement will allow customers who have been impacted by vehicle thefts to receive additional benefits," said John Yoon, chief legal officer, Kia America, Inc. "This agreement is the latest step in a series of important actions, in addition to providing a free security software upgrade and distributing over 65,000 steering wheel locks, that Kia has taken to help customers whose vehicles have been targeted by criminals using methods of theft popularized on social media. Kia remains committed to assisting our customers and upholding vehicle security."
Also as part of the settlement, the automakers say the software upgrade will be automatically installed in conjunction with any service or maintenance appointment that brings the owner of an eligible vehicle into the dealership. For customers with vehicles that can't accommodate the upgrade, the deal will provide reimbursement up to $300 for the purchase of various anti-theft devices.
The settlement includes approximately 9 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
2013-2017 Elantra GT
2013-2014 Elantra Coupe
2011-2012 Elantra Touring
2011-2014 Genesis Coupe
2011-2012, 2019-2022 Santa Fe
2013-2018, 2019 Santa Fe; Santa Fe XL
2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport
2012-2017, 2019-2021 Veloster
The automakers say the Court is expected to review the proposed settlement of the matter (In re: Kia Hyundai Vehicle Theft Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liab. Litig., Case No. 8:22-ML-3052 JVS(KESx) (C.D. Cal.) for preliminary approval in July. Notices will be sent to individual class members following final approval and pursuant to the terms of the settlement.
The case revolves around a spike in thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the summer of 2022 in response to videos posted by car thieves on TikTok and other social media channels in what became known as the "Kia Challenge."
In the videos, thieves documented and promoted a specific method by which to bypass the vehicles' security features, dismantle their steering columns and create direct access to their ignitions and challenged others to copycat their crimes. (Hyundai and Kia says they've urged TikTok and others to have the illicit content removed in accordance with the platforms' terms of service and community standards.)
As a result of the videos, thefts of 2011-2022 model year Hyundai and Kia vehicles without push button start or immobilizing anti-theft devices spiked. There are approximately 9 million of 2011-2022 model year Hyundai and Kia vehicles on the road the fall into this category.
The automakers maintain that the vehicles are fully compliant with federal anti-theft requirements. However they say they're supporting the security of customers, this agreement they say, being the latest step.
Software Upgrade Status
Earlier this year, Hyundai and Kia rolled out a free anti-theft software upgrade for affected customers.
To date, Kia has notified over three million owners and lessees of these vehicle models—covering over 96% of eligible vehicles—that they are eligible to receive the software upgrade and expects to notify all upgrade-eligible customers by the end of this month. Kia owners can find more information at https://ksupport.kiausa.com/ConsumerAffairs/SWLD (link also available at Contact Us section of the Kia Owner's Portal on www.kia.com).
Hyundai says all of its affected vehicles became eligible for the upgrade as of last month. Its notified most of these customers, with the remainder to be completed by month-end. For more info visit HyundaiAntiTheft.com.
The free anti-theft software upgrade modifies certain vehicle control modules on Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with standard "turn-key-to-start" ignition systems to include an "ignition kill" feature so the vehicles cannot be started when subjected to the method of theft popularized on TikTok and other social media channels.
The automakers says all Hyundai and Kia vehicles produced since November 2021 are equipped with an engine immobilizer as standard equipment.
Hyundai and Kia say they've also provided consumers with tens of thousands of free steering wheel locks, either through local law enforcement or through direct shipment to impacted owners.
Photo Credit: Hyundai/Kia.