Kia and Hyundai agree to a $200 million settlement over “mistakes” in car theft
The settlement also includes those who owned “theft-prone” vehicles that were not stolen, Berman said.
The vehicles, made between 2011 and 2022, also had others “design flaw,“ such as steering columns that allowed easy access to the ignition unit, he said. The ignition cylinders were built without a locking mechanism, making them easy to remove by thieves.
In a 21st century twist, the design vulnerabilities were given mass exposure in videos on TikTok and YouTube, including a “Kia Challenge”[ads1];, where netizens posted guides to steal the vehicles.
Class action lawyers said they wanted settlement websites for affected vehicle owners. Kia and Hyundai said they would also have websites for affected owners.
The deal is subject to approval by a federal judge. The companies said in a statement that the total amount of the payout depends on how many customers participate. It said it would set aside up to $145 million to cover those losses to customers.
Kia operates separately from Hyundai, but is a subsidiary of the Korean-based automaker. The Kia plant in West Point, which produces about 340,000 vehicles a year, is the only Kia plant in the United States. Hyundai is manufactured in Montgomery, Ala.
However, some vehicles are imported from elsewhere. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked how many of the vehicles covered by the lawsuit came from the Georgia assembly line, but Kia could not be specific Monday.
The settlement will include software upgrades for some models, including the Kia Sportage, Kia Sorento and Kia Sedona, according to The New York Times.
Georgia ranks 10th in the nation for vehicle theft, according to an analysis by ValuePenguin, a subsidiary of Lending Tree, which analyzed statistics compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
In Georgia, the most frequently stolen vehicle has been a Ford pickup, the analysis showed.
The computerized systems used in today’s vehicles are also making most thieves more sophisticated, according to Bankrate, which offers online financial advice to consumers.
Some thieves get smart keys or change a vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number), but owners can also be careless. The National Insurance Crime Bureau found that between 2016 and 2018, nearly 230,000 vehicles were stolen because the vehicle’s fob had been left inside the car, according to Bankrate.
KIA vehicles affected:
Hyundai vehicles affected:
2013-2017 Elantra GT
Elantra Cup 2013-2014
2011-2012 Elantra Touring
2011-2014 Genesis Coupe
2011–2012, 2019–2022 Santa Fe
2013-2018, 2019 Santa Fe; Santa Fe XL
2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport
2012-2017, 2019-2021 Veloster
Sources: Kia America, Hyundai Motor America