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Friday, April 19, 2024

Auto thefts prompt 18 states to urge recall of Hyundai and Kia cars

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Hyundai and Kia, which has faced mass class action lawsuits and administrative lawsuits alleging that defective vehicles made them easy targets for theft, are now facing a massive recall led by a coalition of 18 states.

On Tuesday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, along with 17 other state attorney generals, sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requesting the recall, saying Hyundai and Kia are not taking adequate steps to address the massive theft epidemic in the United States.

The attorney generals stated that the reason for the recall is that the carmakers violated federal requirements that require vehicles to have an ignition system that prevents operation of the engine or motor and steering system when the key is removed, the vulnerability to theft poses an unreasonable risk to safety on the road, the surge in thefts has consumed law enforcement and emergency response resources, and the companies’ services are insufficient to protect drivers and the public.

The recalled vehicles were manufactured from 2011 to 2022 and are models that lack an “engine immobilizer” device, which is a standard safety feature that prevents the engine from starting unless the key is present.

Led by Attorney General Bonta, the letter demanding action on the Hyundai and Kia recall was signed by attorney generals from 18 states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Last month, the coalition of attorney generals sent a letter to Hyundai and Kia urging the automaker to take stronger action to address safety issues in its vehicles. And within a month, they are now calling for federal intervention on the matter.

“Kia’s and Hyundai’s failure to install standard safety features on many of their vehicles have put vehicle owners and the public at risk,” Bonta said in a news release. “Instead of taking responsibility with appropriate corrective action, these carmakers have chosen instead to pass this risk onto consumers and our communities.”

“Hyundai and Kia has failed to adequately address these safety concerns, ignoring urgent requests from national law enforcement and car buyers. We are asking the federal government to require Hyundai and Kia to correct their mistakes through a nationwide recall and to help us in our ongoing efforts to report unsafe vehicles to the public.”

According to the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, there has been a spike in theft reports since a video showing how to steal Hyundai and Kia cars circulated on TikTok in 2021. In addition, additional criminal activity linked to the thefts has increased, resulting in more injuries and deaths.

Statistics show that Hyundai and Kia auto thefts in Los Angeles spiked 85% last year alone, accounting for 20% of all reported vehicle thefts in the city that year. In 2021, the figure was 13%.

Berkeley also reported that Hyundai and Kia vehicles total up to 38% of all stolen vehicles in the region since the end of last year.

Kia said in a statement, “we continue to take action to address the concerns these attorney generals have raised.” The automaker says more than 165,000 customers have had the software installed, and over 2 million owners have been contacted about it. The company says the vehicles comply with federal safety standards, so a recall isn’t necessary.

Hyundai also said in a statement, “We are communicating with NHTSA on our many actions to assist our customers.”

BY YEONHWA JANG [support@koreadaily.com]