City sues Kia and Hyundai for making ‘easy-to-steal’ cars

Medina is suing Kia and Hyundai for making “easy-to-steal” cars. Photo: Getty Images

In the first three months of 2023 alone, thefts from Kia and Hyundai cars increased by nearly 2,400% in Rochester, a New York City of more than 200,000, and local authorities decided to take drastic action: prosecute the manufacturers.

Kia America and Hyundai Motor America will be sued for “Prioritizing profit over people and safetysays a press release He was released Monday by the office of Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans.

The city said it had engaged outside legal counsel to pursue litigation to hold manufacturers accountable for costs associated with the wave of thefts, as they had taken “shortcuts by failing to incorporate technology that would have easily prevented these vehicles from being started with a wire.” “.

Mayor Evans’ announcement comes after some videos, which have gone viral in recent months, showed tutorials on how to steal Kia and Hyundai cars, using only a USB cable. Thefts went from just 32, from January to March 2022, to 752 in the same time period in 2023.

Auto theft, shout-out on TikTok

Some vehicles built by the two companies before 2021 have traditional key-operated ignitions, rather than the remotely-started keyless entry systems, and can be easily started via a USB cable. The vulnerability sparked a TikTok challenge that ended in a wave of thefts, largely by teenagers.

According to the newspaper Rochester LighthouseIn the early days of the TikTok challenge, Kia and Hyundai accused owners of vulnerable vehicles of installing anti-theft devices in their cars. First, the companies offered steering wheel lock bars, and then, in February, offered free software updates that bypass the USB ignition.

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Evans says such efforts paid off Too late. The mayor notes that other manufacturers avoided the problem by installing factory fasteners, but Kia and Hyundai, to save money, “made, marketed, and distributed these cars knowing they had Serious security flaws“.

Overall, vehicle theft cases, regardless of type, are on the rise in the same city, recording 1,230 so far in 2023, compared to 1,135 in all of 2022.

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Evans says he’s “particularly frustrated because these cars are so affordable and popular with people who can’t afford to waste time working because their mode of transportation is gone.”

Meanwhile, the mayor insisted, The problem continues “out of control” and the city should not bear the costsOr our residents, or our companies, or the people who bought Kias and Hyundais, because they probably thought they would have anti-theft technology in the 21st century.”

The lawsuit is expected to be filed next week in the Central Federal District of California, where the Korean automakers (Hyundai owns a majority stake in Kia, but operates separately) are based in the United States.

Kia and Hyundai candidates for other offenses

These cars are often later used for other crimes, such as robbing local businesses and homes. In some cases, the criminals crash into walls and car fenders, Evans said, causing “higher costs for the taxpayer”.

The lawsuit seeks property damage law enforcement, a waiver of reservation fees and public safety, and alleges “Kia and Hyundai’s decision not to install readily available anti-theft technology” as the culprit.

“These thefts negatively affect the quality of life of Population and Livelihoods of Rochester Business Owners”.

Last week, a stolen Kia was found at the scene of the robbery at Montague Music Hall in Rochester. In another case, a stolen Kia drove through lawns and sidewalks near the city’s Franklin High School.

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The lawsuit follows the trend in other cities that have announced similar lawsuits, including Cleveland, San Diego and Seattle. Rochester will also become the second New York City to launch such an effort, joining Buffalo.

A Hyundai spokesperson admitted Fox News that “thieves figured out a specific way to circumvent car security features and then documented and promoted their exploits on TikTok.”

“In response, Hyundai has taken comprehensive steps to assist our customers, including a program in partnership with AAA insurers to offer insurance options to eligible patients; another program to reimburse customers who have purchased wheel-to-wheel insurance; and location To provide owners with information on all available support options,” the representative said.

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