Hyundai and Kia To Offer $200M Settlement for TikTok Theft Class-Action Lawsuit

The Hyundai and Kia theft situation has been going on for too long. The rightfully upset owners of the vulnerable vehicles have filed class-action lawsuits against the Korean companies, and the two automakers have agreed to offer a hefty settlement. 
A Damaged Kia Soul 8 photos
Photo: WTHR on YouTube/Alissa Smart
"Hacked" Hyundai"Hacked" HyundaiThe Damaged Kia SoulThe Damaged Kia SoulThe Video that Started the "Kia Challenge"The Video that Started the "Kia Challenge"The Damaged Kia Soul
In case you're unfamiliar with the issue (although if you live in the US, that's highly unlikely), here's the gist of it. A TikTok challenge showcased how easy it was to start and steal certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles by removing the ignition cover and using a screwdriver or a USB cable to fire up the engine. The at-risk vehicles were certain 2015-2021 Hyundais and some Kias produced between 2011 and 2021 with key ignition and without an electric immobilizer.

We don't have an exact figure regarding the total number of thefts, but the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) will release it later this year. Clearly, this was no minor issue - many cities have recorded significant year-over-year increases in Hyundai and Kia theft reports, and some have declared that 60% or more of the car thefts involved Hyundais or Kias.

For instance, Minneapolis police have received 1,899 Kia and Hyundai theft reports – that's almost 18 times the number for the same period last year. Besides numerous thefts, the "challenge" led to at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities in the United States. Another example is New York - by the end of April, the city's police said 966 Hyundai and Kia thefts, seven times the 2022 figure. City officials even organized a press conference to provide owners with tracking devices in case their vehicles get stolen.

Measures were taken to solve this issue, but it took a while to implement them. In February, the brands introduced a free anti-theft software update targeted for almost four million vehicles. Naturally, the automakers' dealerships carried out the update free of charge.

For customers whose vehicles do not support the security software upgrade, the Korean companies announced they would provide up to $300 (€278) to purchase steering wheel locks and other theft deterrent or prevention devices, such as a glass breakage system. Kia Motors America said more than 65,000 locks have been given out so far.

The lawyers for the owners and the automakers have announced that Hyundai Motor and Kia Corp have agreed to a consumer class-action lawsuit worth around $200 million (€185 million). This settlement applies to about nine million US owners, including up to $145 million (€134 million) for the losses customers who had their vehicles stolen suffered.

Payments of up to $6,125 (€5,681) per owner will be made for the loss of their vehicle. What's more, payments for the damage to the car and to the personal property could add up to $3,375 (€3,130), and insurance-related expenses and other costs could be included, such as taxi fares, car rentals, and more.
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About the author: Mircea Mazuru
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Starting out with a motorcycle permit just because he could get one two years earlier than a driver's license, Mircea keeps his passion for bikes (motor or no motor) alive to this day. His lifelong dream is to build his own custom camper van.
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