Hyundai and Kia announced a substantial settlement amounting to over $200 million in response to a class-action lawsuit. The legal action was filed by owners of vehicles that were deemed susceptible to theft. This issue gained attention and notoriety through viral TikTok videos referred to as the “Kia Challenge.” The videos were posted by individuals known as the “Kia Boys,” who showcased their ability to effortlessly steal the affected cars in under 90 seconds using nothing more than a common USB charging cord or a similar metal object to start the engine.
The settlement reached between the plaintiffs and the automakers is considered a significant resolution. It offers what attorneys involved in the case describe as a “welcome relief” to individuals who were affected by what they deem to be Hyundai and Kia’s negligence in failing to include basic anti-theft protection mechanisms in approximately 9 million vehicles that were available in the market.
The class-action lawsuit shed light on the vulnerability of certain Hyundai and Kia models to theft, as demonstrated by the “Kia Challenge” videos that went viral on TikTok. The footage captured the ease with which the cars could be stolen using a simple USB charging cord or similar metallic objects, raising concerns among owners and the general public about the lack of adequate security measures in the affected vehicles.
The settlement of over $200 million represents a significant financial commitment from Hyundai and Kia to rectify the situation and address the grievances of affected vehicle owners. While the exact details of the settlement have not been disclosed, it is expected to encompass various forms of compensation and remedial measures aimed at mitigating the risk of theft for the affected vehicles.
The case highlights the importance of robust security features in modern vehicles, especially as technology advances and potential vulnerabilities arise. Automobile manufacturers have a responsibility to prioritize the safety and protection of their customers, and this settlement underscores the consequences that can arise when such responsibilities are not fulfilled.
The resolution aims to provide relief to those affected by Hyundai and Kia’s alleged negligence in failing to incorporate adequate anti-theft protection in millions of vehicles. As the automotive industry continues to evolve, it is crucial for manufacturers to prioritize the implementation of robust security measures to ensure the safety and peace of mind of their customers.
The settlement provides various benefits, outlined below:
- Up to $145 Million for Out-of-Pocket Losses. This tier of payments includes compensation for a range of out-of-pocket damages, including total loss of vehicles up to $6,125, damage to vehicle and personal property up to $3,375, insurance-related expenses and other related expenses including car rental, taxi costs, ride share costs or public transit payments not otherwise covered by insurance.The settlement will also reimburse affected owners for towing costs as well as other fees and taxes related to replacement vehicles, if the affected car was lost or stolen.The settlement also includes payments to those whose vehicles suffered crashes or were stolen and never recovered, as well as coverage for speeding tickets, red light tickets or other penalties or fines incurred arising from a stolen vehicle.Finally, class members may also seek to recover losses related to lost income or childcare expenses resulting from the implementation of the software upgrade.
- Software Upgrades. At no cost, owners of affected vehicles are eligible for a software upgrade to effectively address the cars’ lack of an immobilizer. The software is designed to prevent the vehicles from starting without the key being present.
Hyundai vehicles eligible for the software upgrade include: 2018-2022 Accent, 2011-2022 Elantra, 2013-2020 Elantra GT, 2018-2022 Kona, 2013-2022 Santa Fe, 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport, 2019 Santa Fe XL, 2011-2019 Sonata, 2011-2022 Tucson, 2012-2017, 2019-2021 Veloster, 2020-2021 Venue, 2013-2014 Genesis Coupe and 2020-2021 Palisade.
Kia vehicles eligible for the software upgrade include: 2011-2022 Kia Sportage, 2011-2022 Kia Sorento, 2021-2022 Kia K5, 2011-2021 Kia Sedona, 2014-2021 Kia Forte, 2012-2021 Kia Rio, 2021-2022 Kia Seltos, 2011-2020 Kia Optima and 2020-2022 Kia Soul.
- Payments in Lieu of Software Upgrades. Owners of models that are not able to receive the software upgrade will be eligible for reimbursement of up to $300 for the installation of a glass breakage alarm or anti-theft system, purchase of a steering wheel lock, or other aftermarket modifications designed to deter or prevent theft.
Settlement websites will soon be made available to class members for more information.