Chicago sues Kia, Hyundai over vulnerability to theft and surge in car-related crime

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Friday, August 25, 2023
Chicago sues Kia, Hyundai over theft vulnerability, car-related crime
The City of Chicago sued Kia and Hyundai, saying their 'failure to include industry-standard engine immobilizers' resulted in a steep rise in crime.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The City of Chicago is suing carmakers Kia and Hyundai, saying their "failure to include industry-standard engine immobilizers" in various models has resulted in a "steep rise in vehicle thefts, reckless driving, property damage, and a wide array of related violent crimes" in the city.

The complaint was filed Thursday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, and names Kia America, Inc., Kia Corporation, Hyundai Motor America and Hyundai Motor Company. It alleges that the two manufacturers failed to equip cars sold in the U.S. between 2011 and 2022 with "vital anti-theft technology" that the city says comes standard in "almost all other car manufacturers," as well as Kia and Hyundai models sold abroad.

READ MORE: CPD warn thieves stealing Kias, Hyundais using method shown on social media

The lawsuit accuses Kia and Hyundai of deceiving consumers by assuring them the cars had "advanced" safety features, despite knowing about the defect.

The city said once videos were posted on social media showing the defects, thefts of Kias and Hyundais surged from about 500 in the first half of 2022 to more than 8,350 in the second half of 2022. The city says Kia and Hyundai thefts still comprise more than half of all vehicle thefts in Chicago in 2023.

RELATED: CPD warns of nearly a dozen more thefts of Hyundai, Kia cars on West Side

The city also says that because the cars are "entry-level models," the defects disproportionately impacts low-income Chicagoans. The lawsuit says the manufacturers have refused to provide sufficient steering wheel locks that the city requested, and also took advantage of consumers by charging them for security kits.

Kia released a statement saying in part, "Kia continues to take action to help our customers by making it more difficult for criminals to use methods of theft recently popularized on social media to steal certain vehicle models. In addition to recently announcing an agreement that will allow customers who have been impacted by vehicle thefts to receive additional benefits, Kia has already notified all eligible owners and lessees of these vehicle models - over 3 million total - that they are able to receive the free security software upgrade that we have developed."

MORE COVERAGE: Kia, Hyundai agree to pay $200 million over theft issues

Hyundai released a statement, saying in part, "Hyundai is committed to the comprehensive actions we are undertaking to assist customers and communities affected by the persistent theft of certain vehicles not equipped with push-button ignitions and engine immobilizers. Our dealers across the country are maximizing the number of anti-theft software installations that can be performed on a daily basis, contributing to steadily increasing completion rates, which we report to NHTSA weekly."

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