NATIONAL NEWS

New York City goes after Hyundai, Kia after security flaw leads to wave of social media fueled theft

Jun 7, 2023, 5:23 AM | Updated: 6:24 am

A line of 2022 Santa Fe SUV's sit outside a Hyundai dealership Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Littleton...

A line of 2022 Santa Fe SUV's sit outside a Hyundai dealership Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Littleton, Colo. Nearly three months after Hyundai and Kia rolled out new software designed to thwart rampant auto thefts, crooks are still driving off with the vehicles at an alarming rate. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

New York City has filed a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia, joining a host of other cities beset by a social media fueled wave of car thefts due to a flaw that made some car models highly susceptible to theft.

Viral how-to videos on TikTok and other sites show how to start the cars using only USB cables and a screwdriver. The reason is that some models sold by Hyundai and Kia in the U.S. came without engine immobilizers, a standard feature on most cars since the 1990s that prevent the engine from starting unless the key is present.

The lawsuit, which was filed with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York late Tuesday, alleges that Hyundai Motor America and Kia America Inc. failed to keep up with other automakers by not adopting immobilizer technology that ensured cars could not be started without their keys.

“Hyundai’s and Kia’s business decisions to reduce costs, and thereby boost profits, by foregoing common anti-theft technology have resulted in an epidemic of thefts,” the lawsuit states.

The city claims the vehicle thefts are straining the resources of its police department, as well as negatively impacting public safety and emergency services.

The New York City police department reports that about 287 Kias were stolen last year, compared with approximately 119 in 2021. Approximately 415 Hyundais were reported stolen in 2022, compared with 232 a year earlier. And the problem has continued, with an estimated 977 Hyundai and Kia vehicles reported stolen in the first four months of this year. There were only 148 such thefts in the same months last year.

New York, the nation’s biggest city by population, joins a growing list of cities going after the carmakers following a raft of thefts, including Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Diego and Seattle.

New York City, which is seeking a trial by jury, is requesting an order providing for abatement of the public nuisance Hyundai and Kia have created or contributed to, compensation for the economic losses suffered as a result of the nuisance and injunctive relief.

Hyundai says it’s committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of its products.

“A subset of Hyundai vehicles on the road in the U.S. today – primarily “base trim” or entry-level models – are not equipped with push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices. It is important to clarify that an engine immobilizer is an anti-theft device and these vehicles are fully compliant with federal anti-theft requirements,” the automaker said in a written statement.

Hyundai made engine immobilizers standard on all of its vehicles made from November 2021 onward. The company also said that it’s speaking with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the actions it is taking to assist its customers.

Kia did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

Last month Hyundai and Kia reached a resolve a class-action lawsuit prompted by a surge in vehicle thefts.

The settlement could be valued at $200 million and covers about 9 million 2011-2022 model year Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the U.S., the companies said at the time.

The settlement will provide cash compensation to customers who suffered theft-related losses or damage not covered by insurance — as well as reimbursement for insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums and other losses, Kia and Hyundai said.

A software upgrade will also be provided to eligible owners. For customers with vehicles that cannot accommodate the software upgrade, the agreement will provide a reimbursement of up to $300 for anti-theft devices.

Kia and Hyundai have also given impacted customers tens of thousands of free steering wheel locks through local law enforcement and direct shipments, the companies said.

That proposed settlement is expected to be reviewed in court for preliminary approval in July.

National News

Associated Press

US judge dismisses Republican challenge over counting of post-Election Day mail ballots in Nevada

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by national and state Republicans that sought to bar Nevada from counting mail ballots received after Election Day. A state law passed by Democrats in 2021 allows election officials to tally ballots received by 5 p.m. on the fourth day after Election […]

45 minutes ago

Boson's mate second class Tyler Boon navigates a U.S. Coast Guard small response boat down the Milw...

Associated Press

Heavily armed security boats patrol winding Milwaukee River during GOP convention

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Instead of kayakers and tour boats, the summertime scene on the Milwaukee River has taken on a solemn tone this week during the Republican National Convention: Around-the-clock patrol boats, some with heavily armed officers. Security planners have had to contend with the winding waterways through Milwaukee near the Fiserv Center RNC convention […]

47 minutes ago

Associated Press

California first state to get federal funds for hydrogen energy hub to help replace fossil fuels

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California will be the first state to receive federal funds under a program to create regional networks, or “hubs,” that produce hydrogen as an energy source for vehicles, manufacturing and generating electricity, officials announced Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Energy said the California Hydrogen Hub will receive an initial $30 million […]

58 minutes ago

Associated Press

Appeals court refuses to lift order blocking rule meant to expand protections for LGBTQ+ students

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Wednesday refused to lift a judge’s order temporarily blocking the Biden administration’s new Title IX rule meant to expand protections for LGBTQ+ students. The ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals kept in place a preliminary injunction issued last month by a federal district […]

1 hour ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Servic...

Associated Press

Trump has given no official info about his medical care for days since an assassination attempt

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Four days after a gunman’s attempt to assassinate former President Donald Trump at a Pennsylvania rally, the public is still in the dark over the extent of his injuries, what treatment the Republican presidential nominee received in the hospital, and whether there may be any long-term effects on his health. Trump’s campaign […]

1 hour ago

Part of a stegosaurus skeleton is displayed at Sotheby's New York in New York, Wednesday, July 10, ...

Associated Press

Stegosaurus fossil fetches nearly $45M, setting record for dinosaur auctions

NEW YORK (AP) — The nearly complete fossilized remains of a stegosaurus fetched $44.6 million at auction Wednesday, Sotheby’s said. The buyer’s name was not disclosed. The fossil, dubbed “Apex,” is considered to be among the most complete ever found, according to the auction house. The price blew past a pre-sale estimate of $4 million […]

2 hours ago

New York City goes after Hyundai, Kia after security flaw leads to wave of social media fueled theft