New York City saw a shocking increase in car theft last year, and, according to a new lawsuit filed in Manhattan court, the automakers at Hyundai and Kia are to blame.
According to Auto Blog, the manufacturers’ made the cars “too easy to steal” due to 2011-2022 models not having anti-theft devices known as immobilizers. Immobilizers are electronic devices that prevent a car from starting without the correct key or fob. The complaint, filed in a Manhattan federal court, seeks unspecified compensatory damages from the Korean automakers
As The Telegraph reports, the number of car thefts in the city doubled in 2022, with Kia and Hyundai theft soaring to 977 vehicles from 148 the year before.
Although the National Insurance Crime Bureau cited that the most stolen car in 2021 was the Honda Accord, the city of New York claims that “thefts of BMW, Ford, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan and Toyota vehicles have fallen” over the past year.
The 39-page suit was filed on Tuesday at the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York According to USA Today, the documents purport that “Hyundai’s and Kia’s business decisions to reduce costs, and thereby boost profits, by foregoing common anti-theft technology” resulted in the uptick of theft.
Despite accusations of the Korean automakers’ negligence, both Hyundai and Kia said in previous statements that they are taking necessary steps to include software updates to prevent future theft, adding that the city’s lawsuit is “without merit.”
Auto Blog also notes that Hyundai and Kia had already said that “they would offer software upgrades for as many as 8.3 million U.S. vehicles that lack the immobilizers.”
On social media, news of the lawsuit was met with mockery and disbelief.
One user sarcastically asked: “This is the same city that reduced their police force in favor of more social workers and encouraged looting/rioting to an entire generation as a civil rights concept? That one?”
“Why stop crime when you can blame the manufacturers for not stopping crime,” another user said.
To add fuel to the fire, a TikTok trend called the “Kia Challenge” has been circulating online, inspiring individuals referred to as “Kia Boys” to steal Kia and Hyundai cars using only a USB and a screwdriver.
@tee.nija This is nottttt okayyyy‼️‼️‼️ #kia #challenge #breakin #trending #payattention #besafe #viral #tiktok #kia #kiasportage2018 #fyp #foryoupage #mechanic #stoptheloop #steal ♬ original sound – Tanija Norris
The trend, according to Vox, resulted in Hyundai agreeing to pay a $200 million settlement to customers whose vehicles were stolen due to the challenge.
The “Kia Challenge” case covered 9 million vehicle owners in the United States and, as stated by Auto Blog, “included as much as $145 million to cover losses for stolen vehicles.”