Hyundai and Kia have reached a $200 million settlement in a consumer class-action lawsuit related to widespread car thefts of their vehicles. The Korean automakers had previously announced their plans to offer software upgrades to 8.3 million U.S. vehicles without anti-theft immobilizers in response to the growing issue of car thefts, popularized through TikTok and other social media platforms.
The settlement covers approximately 9 million owners in the United States, with up to $145 million allocated to compensate consumers who have experienced out-of-pocket losses due to car thefts. Hyundai and Kia have committed to reimbursing owners for theft-related losses and damages, including insurance deductibles, increased premiums, and other expenses associated with theft incidents.
To assist customers whose vehicles are unable to accommodate the security software upgrades, the automakers will provide up to $300 for the purchase of theft deterrent devices such as steering wheel locks. The aim is to promptly offer benefits to those who have suffered financial losses as a result of car thefts, as stated by Steve Berman, a lawyer representing the owners.
The rise of TikTok videos showcasing car theft techniques for vehicles lacking push-button ignitions and anti-theft devices has led to numerous incidents, including at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities in the United States, according to regulators’ statements in February.
The consumer settlement specifically applies to owners of Hyundai or Kia vehicles with a traditional “insert-and-turn” steel key ignition system, spanning model years 2011 through 2022. It encompasses various payments, including compensation for total vehicle loss, vehicle and property damage, insurance-related expenses, as well as costs like car rentals or alternative transportation not covered by insurance. Additionally, owners can seek reimbursement for towing expenses, stolen vehicles involved in accidents or not recovered, and payments related to tickets or penalties resulting from a stolen vehicle.
In addition to the class-action lawsuit, several major cities, including St. Louis, Cleveland, San Diego, Milwaukee, Columbus, Baltimore, and Seattle, have also filed lawsuits against Hyundai and Kia regarding the car thefts.
The settlement aims to address the concerns of affected owners and provide financial relief for the losses they have incurred due to car theft incidents involving Hyundai and Kia vehicles. It reflects the automakers’ commitment to addressing the issue and supporting their customers during these challenging circumstances.