The campaign to recall South Korean auto brands Kia, and Hyundai from US markets is gaining momentum.
17 Attorneys General are calling for the removal of easy-to steal vehicles from the US manufactured between 2011-2022 due to their violation of federal motor vehicle safety regulations.
In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the attorneys demanded that the cars be removed from US roads because of their vulnerable ignition switches. They also argued that the lack of engine immobilizers makes them appealing to thieves.
The letter states that "due to the vulnerability in the starting systems of these vehicles, they can be hotwired in minutes and stolen, posing a serious issue for safety across the country."
In the letter signed by attorneys from Arizona, Colorado and Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland, Michigan and Minnesota, New Jersey and New Mexico, New York and Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island as well as Washington and District of Columbia it was noted that eight people had already died due to car thefts in which Kia or Hyundai were involved.
William Tong, Connecticut's attorney general, has condemned the reckless driving and criminal activities that have resulted in deaths and injuries. I've asked Hyundai and Kia, on April 20, to quickly fix the problem, without nickel-and-diming their customers. We can't afford to wait. They have failed. "It's time to force a recall by the federal government."
TikTok has become a hub for car thefts after the "Kia Challenge 2021" video went viral. The video showed how to easily ignite certain models Kia and Hyundai using only a USB cable and a screwdriver. TikTok removed the videos every time they were posted on its platform. However, many users downloaded them to their phones.
NHTSA stated that the Hyundai and Kia thefts involved criminal conduct which falls under the jurisdictions of law enforcement. NHTSA met with car manufacturers to discuss car security issues, software and hardware for the affected models. The article states: "The companies are working with law-enforcement agencies to provide over 26,000 steering wheel lock since November 2022 for 77 law-enforcement agencies in 12 States."
The thefts have not decreased. Seattle's City Attorney's Office reported that thefts of Kias and Hyundais increased by 363% and 503% between 2021-2022. Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison stated in a January statement that "Kia & Hyundai cut corners to save money at the expense of customers and the general public." As a result of this, our police have had to deal with a massive increase in vehicle thefts and other problems. Seattle taxpayers are now responsible for the increased theft.
In Chicago, 1,000 Kias have been stolen since October last year. Portland, Oregon saw a 916 percent increase in the rate of Kia thefts between January 2022 and January 2023. Hyundai thefts increased by 768% during the same time period. In 2022, about 70% of cars stolen in Milwaukee came from these two brands.
In February, Kia and Hyundai developed theft deterrent software, free of charge, for millions vehicles without an immobilizer. However, this did not stop the thefts.