Cities across the United States have filed lawsuits against Korean automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Corp. for their failure to install anti-theft technology in millions of their vehicles. The alleged defect is the failure of Hyundai and Kia to install electronic immobilizers on their vehicles, which were standard on 96% of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2015 but were standard on only 26% of Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Electronic immobilizers prevent break-ins and bypassing the ignition.
As a result, Kia and Hyundai vehicles represent a disproportionate share of stolen vehicles in cities across the country. For example, in St. Louis, which is one of the cities suing the Korean automakers, 61% of the stolen vehicles since May 2022 have been manufactured by Hyundai and Kia. The Korean automakers recently said they would offer software upgrades to 8.3 million U.S. vehicles to help curb thefts.
Thefts of these Hyundai and Kia vehicles resulted in at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities in the Korean automakers’ vehicles according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison launched a civil investigation into Kia and Hyundai vehicles that lacked industry-standard, anti-theft technology. Ellison said that in 2022, thefts of Kias and Hyundais in Minneapolis were tied to five homicides and 265 motor vehicle accidents.
If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of a vehicle defect, please contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-222-7211 or toll free at 1‑800-870-9584.