New York City this week filed a lawsuit against South Korean automakers Kia and Hyundai, alleging some of their models are too easy to steal, posing problems including potential public injury or death risks.
The lawsuit accuses Kia of America and Hyundai of America for not keeping pace with other automakers in adopting immobilizer technology, which ensures vehicles can only be started with a key.
Some models sold in the U.S. by Hyundai and Kia do not have engine immobilizers, which have been standard on most cars since the 1990s, according to the 39-page complaint filed Tuesday, which it said was an effort to reduce costs and increase Common anti-theft technology is abandoned for profit, resulting in frequent vehicle theft.
The city filed the lawsuit, citing negligence and public nuisance, alleging that frequent car thefts impede public safety, drain police department resources and negatively impact other emergency public services.
Some videos on websites such as TikTok show that these vehicles can be started with only a screwdriver and a USB charging cable.
“In the 1960s and 1970s, all it took to successfully steal a car was a little brute force, flip the ignition, start the car with a key-like object, and drive away in seconds,” the complaint states. That’s no longer the case for most cars thanks to immobilizers, and Hyundai and Kia are pretty much the only automakers not to have them in most cars between 2011 and 2022. “
The complaint also includes photos of stolen cars, including one from a June 2021 incident in Milwaukee when a 16-year-old died after allegedly stealing a Kia Sportage and colliding with another vehicle. His two 12-year-old accomplices were also seriously injured, as were three occupants in the car he hit. A similar tragedy occurred in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, when a woman was killed at the scene trying to stop a Hyundai from being stolen.
Auto theft and reckless driving also pose a risk of bodily harm to pedestrians, the complaint alleges. On February 8, 2023, a stolen Hyundai in Baltimore struck another vehicle and a 54-year-old pedestrian during a high-speed chase. Both vehicles crashed into a nearby building, which collapsed on top of the vehicle and pedestrians, who were killed instantly and five people in both vehicles were injured.
Nearly 290 Kia vehicles were stolen in New York City last year, and about 119 in 2021, according to the NYPD. About 415 Hyundai vehicles were stolen in 2022 and 232 in 2021. Nearly 1,000 Hyundai and Kia vehicles were stolen from January to April this year. During the same period last year, there were only 148 thefts.
It is noticed that not only New York, but cities including Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Diego and Seattle have sued Hyundai and Kia.
The lawsuit comes a month after Kia and Hyundai settled a $200 million class-action lawsuit related to widespread car theft in some U.S. cities. The two companies issued a statement saying they will provide cash compensation to customers who have suffered uninsured theft-related vehicle loss or damage, in addition to reimbursement for insurance deductibles, increased insurance costs and other theft-related issues. related losses.
The suit calls for a jury trial, removal of public nuisance caused or contributed to by Hyundai and Kia, and damages for financial losses suffered as a result of the nuisance.