States demand more action from Hyundai, Kia to prevent thefts

AP/David Zalubowski
In this April 15, 2018, file photo, the company logo hangs on the side of a showroom at a Hyundai dealer in Littleton, Colo. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation has opened a query into seat belt pretensioners on certain 2020-2022 Kia/Hyundai vehicles, saying that they may rupture or explode. A seat belt pretensioner is a part of the seat belt system that locks the seat belt in place during a crash. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

A group of 23 state attorneys general are demanding that Hyundai and Kia take further action to prevent an ongoing surge of thefts, after a recent social media trend highlighted the vehicles’ lack of a particular anti-theft device.

Hyundai and Kia opted not to equip their cars with engine immobilizers until late 2021, an anti-theft device that the attorneys general argued became an industry standard several years earlier.

The automakers announced last month that they were rolling out a software update to their vehicles that would extend the alarm sound and require the key be in the ignition to start. 

However, the state attorneys general noted in a letter to the carmakers on Monday that the companies’ software update will not be available to most affected vehicles until June and cannot be installed on some models for technical reasons.

“While your companies are reported to have taken some steps to address this crisis, it hasn’t been enough, and it hasn’t been done fast enough,” the letter said.

The cars have been increasingly targeted after a TikTok challenge pointed out their lack of engine immobilizers. As Hyundai and Kia thefts surge, several major insurance companies have temporarily stopped accepting new customer applications in some states for particular models.

“Cars are often one of the largest purchases a family will ever make — and families shouldn’t have to worry that manufacturers are cutting corners that could put their purchase at risk,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta, a signatory of the letter, said in a statement. 

“Hyundai and Kia made a decision to forgo a standard safety feature that would help protect owners’ investments, and now their customers are paying the price,” Bonta added. “It’s time for Hyundai and Kia to take responsibility for their poor decision which is hurting American families and putting public safety at risk. They must remedy this decision, now.”

Tags Rob Bonta

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