Kia and Hyundai agree to car theft settlement after class-action lawsuit
Following a class-action lawsuit against Hyundai Motor America and Kia America that was prompted by a surge in vehicle thefts, the two automakers have reached a settlement. The companies said that the settlement could be valued at $200 million and covers about 9 million 2011-2022 model-year Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the U.S.
A wave of Hyundai and Kia thefts began in 2021 and spread nationally, with a spike last summer, fueled by instructional videos posted on TikTok and other social media sites on how to steal the cars.
The identified cars were not equipped with push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices. Absent these parts, car thieves easily stole them using just a screwdriver and a USB cord, creating a recent rash of auto thefts across the country.
Despite the automakers’ unveiling of anti-theft software nearly three months ago, many police departments report continued thefts of the vehicles.
Customers who suffered theft-related losses or damage not covered by insurance will be provided cash compensation — as well as reimbursement for insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums, and other losses.
Kia and Hyundai said a software upgrade will also be provided to eligible owners. For customers with vehicles that cannot accommodate the software upgrade, the agreement will provide a reimbursement of up to $300 for anti-theft devices. The cash settlement amount to customers who had their cars stolen or damaged is unknown at this time. The total settlement amount will depend on how many customers participate.
Kia and Hyundai have also given impacted customers tens of thousands of free steering wheel locks through local law enforcement and direct shipments, the companies said.
Attorney Elizabeth A. Fegan of Fegan Scott, one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs said in a statement, “Hyundai and Kia failed to sell cars equipped with fundamental anti-theft features, and that was not a victimless act. We are pleased with the settlement reached and its immediate ability to hinder thieves, as well as compensate victims of thefts that have already occurred.”
The proposed settlement is expected to be reviewed in court for preliminary approval in July.