Hyundai, Kia agree to $200 mn settlement over TikTok car theft challenge
San Francisco, May 19 Hyundai and Kia have agreed to a $200 million settlement to resolve class-action litigation with owners of certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles without push-button ignitions and immobilising anti-theft devices, or so called “Kia Challenge” on TikTok.
Hyundai Motor America and Kia America said in a statement they will provide cash compensation as part of the agreement to customers who incurred theft-related vehicle losses or damage not covered by insurance, in addition to reimbursement for insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums, and other theft-related losses.
The “Kia Challenge” on social media platforms led to hundreds of car thefts, including at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities, according to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Thieves known as “the Kia Boyz” would post instructional videos on YouTube and TikTok about how to bypass the vehicles’ security using tools as simple as a USB cable.
“We appreciate the opportunity to provide additional support for our owners who have been impacted by increasing and persistent criminal activity targeting our vehicles,” said Jason Erb, chief legal officer, Hyundai Motor North America.
The settlement includes approximately 9 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
“We’re committed to continuing software upgrade installations and steering wheel lock distribution to help prevent thefts and offering insurance options through AAA for those who have had difficulty securing and sustaining coverage,” he added.
As part of this settlement, the software upgrade will be automatically installed in conjunction with any service or maintenance appointment that brings the owner of an eligible vehicle into the dealership.
“Kia is very pleased that today’s announcement will allow customers who have been impacted by vehicle thefts to receive additional benefits,” said John Yoon, chief legal officer, Kia America.
Kia said that it will also provide a free security software upgrade and distribute over 65,000 steering wheel locks to help customers whose vehicles have been targeted by criminals using methods of theft popularised on social media.
For customers whose vehicles cannot accommodate the software upgrade, the agreement will provide reimbursement up to $300 for the purchase of various anti-theft devices, said the company.