Around nine million Hyundai and Kia models are involved in the settlement.
Hyundai Motor America and Kia America have agreed to cough up around $200 million in a legal settlement involving millions of its vehicles that are vulnerable to thefts.
The compensation will be provided to customers who suffered losses or damages to their cars that were not covered by insurance and those who incurred high insurance premiums and related costs because of the debacle. As part of the agreement, relevant customers will also be reimbursed for anti-theft devices, alarm kits, and steering wheel locks.
The settlement involves around nine million Kia and Hyundai models produced since the 2011 model year, including popular crossovers like the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Palisade.
The settlement seems like an inevitable resolution to an issue that has plagued the South Korean automakers over the last year or so.
Despite trying to exercise damage control by rolling out an anti-theft software update for affected models and even finding new insurance alternatives for affected customers, these measures came too late for many who were directly impacted by the theft or attempted theft of their vehicles.
In February, State Farm released a list of all the Hyundai and Kia models it would no longer insure, while the automakers were sued by the city of Seattle in Washington for not installing anti-theft technologies in some of its cars.
"We appreciate the opportunity to provide additional support for our owners who have been impacted by increasing and persistent criminal activity targeting our vehicles," said Jason Erb, chief legal officer for Hyundai Motor North America. John Yoon, chief legal officer for Kia America, echoed these sentiments, saying, "This agreement is the latest step in a series of important actions, in addition to providing a free security software upgrade and distributing over 65,000 steering wheel locks."
Thefts of Kia and Hyundai models skyrocketed in the summer of 2022 after videos were posted on TikTok and other social media channels that detailed an easy method to steal these cars. Most of the nine million vulnerable models are entry-level trims without push-button ignitions and anti-theft devices.
While the settlement will appease some customers, the fiasco will have done little for the image of these vehicles in the USA. At the same time, the latest data show that thefts of Hyundais and Kias have not let up despite the software fix that was made available.
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