Kia and Hyundai have agreed to a class-action settlement worth about $200 million over claims that many of the Korean automakers’ cars are too vulnerable to theft, according to lawyers for the companies and their owners.
The settlement covers about 9 million owners of Hyundai or Kia vehicles made between 2011 and 2022 and featuring a traditional steel “insert-and-turn” key ignition system, lawyers for the owners said in a news release Thursday.
Compensation to owners includes up to $145 million in deductibles that will be distributed to people who have had their cars stolen. Affected owners may be reimbursed up to $6,125 for total vehicle loss, and up to $3,375 for damage to the vehicle and personal property, as well as insurance-related expenses.
Car thefts of the affected models, using a hack popularized on social media, have increased in recent months. The rising number of thefts has coincided with the spread of a TikTok “challenge” showing people how to steal Kia and Hyundai vehicles that lack basic safety features. The trend has been linked to eight deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The automakers said in February that they would begin rolling out software upgrades to the 8.3 million U.S. vehicles that lack immobilizers — a feature that prevents a car from starting unless it receives an electronic signal from a key.
Since then, pressure on the company to do more to curb the thefts has only increased.
Citing the increase in theft, several cities including Seattle, St. Louis, Mo., Columbus, Ohio and Baltimore have sued Kia and Hyundai. Last month, attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia urged NHTSA to issue a mandatory recall of the affected vehicles.
As part of the agreement, the anti-theft software will now be automatically added to vehicles with any deal with dealer service, the companies said in a press release.
“We appreciate the opportunity to provide additional support to our owners who have been affected by increasing and persistent criminal activity targeting our vehicles,” Jason Erb, Hyundai Motor North America’s general counsel, said in a statement.