Attorneys General Of 23 US States Urge Hyundai, Kia To Take Swift Action Against Car Thefts

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A group of 23 U.S. states attorneys general have asked South Korean car manufacturers Hyundai Motor and Kia Corp. to take action more quickly to solve problems with millions of U.S. vehicles facing theft. The issue is related to the companies' failure to equip vehicles with anti-theft immobilizers, which has been a standard equipment on vehicles sold by other major manufacturers in the U.S.

In a joined letter from 22 states and the District of Columbia, the attorneys general led by Wisconsin's Josh Kaul called on Kia and Hyundai to take swift and comprehensive action to help remedy the crisis of car thefts.

Both car companies face legal action as certain of their car models are vulnerable to theft due to a design flaw in vehicles manufactured without an engine immobilizer, an anti-theft mechanism. The country is facing increasing thefts after TikTok and other social media channels popularized a method showing how to steal cars without push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices.

Majority of the most commonly stolen car brands in the United States were said to be manufactured by Hyundai and Kia. In Chicago, over 7,000 car thefts were reported of Hyundai and Kia vehicles in 2022. In Milwaukee, of the 8,096 vehicles stolen in 2022, 58% were made by Kia or Hyundai.

As per reports, certain auto insurance companies deny auto coverage for select Hyundai and Kia vehicle models.

In this alarming situation, the companies in February said they would offer software upgrades to 8.3 million U.S. vehicles they manufactured without an engine immobilizer with a view to help customers from thefts.

In the joint letter, the attorneys general said, "The surge in thefts of these vulnerable vehicles has been truly shocking. More needs to be done so that every current owner can obtain one of these devices at no cost as soon as possible - especially those owners whose cars are not compatible with the software upgrade you recently announced."

The AGs urged both companies to do everything in their power to improve the situation for owners of these vulnerable vehicles. They asked to accelerate the implementation of a software update to improve security, and to provide free alternative protective measures.

Apart from Kaul, the letter is signed by AGs of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, along with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

Meanwhile, Kia and Hyundai reportedly said that they have contacted over 2.1 million customers to advise them of software upgrades. Hyundai said all of its vehicles meet U.S. anti-theft requirements and has begun reimbursing eligible customers for steering wheel lock purchases.

Kia also said it is working with major insurance carriers to make sure its customers have access to quality and comprehensive coverage.

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