Chicago Suing Hyundai, Kia Over Car Theft Surge from Vehicle Vulnerability

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Filed under Automotive, Hyundai, Kia, News

The City of Chicago has recently taken legal action against automakers Kia and Hyundai, accusing them of being responsible for a significant increase in vehicle thefts in the city. Chicago alleges that the manufacturers failed to incorporate standard engine immobilizers in a range of their models, leading to a rise in car thefts, reckless driving, property damage, and related violent crimes.

This lawsuit, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, specifically targets Kia America, Inc., Kia Corporation, Hyundai Motor America, and Hyundai Motor Company. The claim centers on the absence of what Chicago terms as “vital anti-theft technology” in cars sold between 2011 and 2022 in the United States, which is said to be a standard feature in vehicles produced by most other manufacturers, including Kia and Hyundai models sold abroad.

One of the key allegations made by Chicago is that Kia and Hyundai deceived consumers by promoting their vehicles as having “advanced” safety features, despite being aware of this critical defect. The complaint suggests that once videos depicting these vulnerabilities were shared on social media platforms, the thefts of Kia and Hyundai cars surged dramatically. In the first half of 2022, approximately 500 such thefts were reported, but this figure skyrocketed to over 8,350 in the second half of the year. Shockingly, these thefts still account for over half of all vehicle thefts in Chicago in 2023.

The city’s lawsuit also emphasizes the disproportionate impact of these defects on low-income residents, citing that these cars are often categorized as “entry-level models.” Furthermore, Chicago claims that the manufacturers refused to provide adequate steering wheel locks, which the city requested as a solution to the problem. Additionally, the complaint alleges that Kia and Hyundai took advantage of consumers by charging them for security kits to address a problem they should have addressed through proper vehicle design.

Kia and Hyundai responded to these allegations in their respective statements. Kia stated that they are actively working to make it harder for criminals to exploit these vulnerabilities, even acknowledging an agreement to provide benefits to customers affected by vehicle thefts. They have also offered a free security software upgrade to over 3 million eligible owners and lessees of these vehicle models.

Hyundai, on the other hand, emphasized their commitment to assisting customers and communities affected by vehicle thefts. They are working closely with their dealers to increase anti-theft software installations and are reporting their progress to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regularly.

Other cities and insurance companies have also filed suits against Hyundai and Kia leading to a lengthy litigation battle.


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