Hyundai and Kia have agreed a $200 million settlement arising from a class action lawsuit related to a series of car thefts inspired by a viral social media challenge on TikTok.
The so-called “Kia Challenge” on the social media platform has led to hundreds of car thefts across the country, including at least 14 reported accidents and eight deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Known as “Kia Boyz,” thieves will post instructional videos on YouTube and TikTok on how to bypass a vehicle’s security system using simple tools like a USB cable.
Thefts are said to be easy to pull off because many Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2015-2019 lack electronic immobilizers that prevent potential thieves from breaking into the vehicle and bypassing the ignition. The advantage is Standard equipment on almost all vehicles From the same period by other manufacturers.
Known as the “Kia Boyz,” the thieves will post instructional videos on YouTube and TikTok
The settlement only applies to about 9 million vehicles that lack push-button ignition and anti-theft immobilizers. In February, the companies also offered free software updates to extend the length of the beep from 30 seconds to 1 minute and to require a key in the ignition switch to start the vehicle. The settlement also includes up to $145 million in personal losses for consumers whose cars were stolen, according to Reuters.
“We appreciate the opportunity to provide additional support to our owners who have been impacted by the increased and ongoing criminal activity targeting our vehicles,” said Jason Earp, Chief Legal Officer, Hyundai Motor Company North America. in the current situation. Customer security remains a top priority.
There hasn’t been a nationwide count of how many Hyundai and Kia cars have been stolen, but stats from individual cities provide some sense of how widespread this trend is. In Milwaukee, for example, police reported 469 Kias and 426 Hyundais stolen in 2020. The following year, those numbers rose to 3,557 Kias and 3,406 Hyundais, According to NPR.
Attempts by Hyundai and Kia to fix the problem have been uneven. Last year, automakers said they would charge owners at least $170 Security groups to fix the problem. But with installation and labor, those costs can climb to $500. In the end, the company raised the reimbursement amount for individual customers to $300.
Hyundai and Kia also provided some owners with wheel locks to prevent theft. NHTSA says the companies have distributed 26,000 wheel locks since November 2022.
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