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State AGs Seek Recall Of High-Theft Hyundai and Kia Vehicles

Scores of Hyundai and Kia vehicles lack basic security features and should be recalled, as a growing number of thefts have created a "safety crisis" on roads across the U.S., a group of state attorneys general says. A letter from the attorneys general of 17 states and the District of Columbia to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges the federal government to intercede to prevent a national problem they say is continuing to accelerate, NPR reports. "Thefts of these Hyundai and Kia vehicles have led to at least eight deaths, numerous injuries and property damage, and they have diverted significant police and emergency services resources from other priorities," the AGs wrote. According to the letter, a thief can easily hotwire certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022 by removing the steering wheel column cover and turning the keyed ignition with a USB cable. These vehicles also lack engine immobilizers, which prevent a car from being started unless it receives an electronic signal from the key. These particular vulnerabilities came into more widespread use since 2021 after a number of TikTok users posted videos of the technique to social media.

Federal regulators say about 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias are affected. Thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles have exploded. Los Angeles saw an 85% increase in Hyundai and Kia thefts in 2022, while Minneapolis says it saw thefts of the two makes jump by 836% last year. The perpetrators, often minors, drive recklessly and sometimes crash, the attorneys general said, and attending to both the thefts and the crashes diverts law enforcement and emergency response resources from other needs. "Kia's and Hyundai's failure to install standard safety features on many of their vehicles have put vehicle owners at risk," California Attorney General Rob Bonta tweeted a tweet. "It is unacceptable that our communities should be forced to shoulder the cost of Kia's and Hyundai's failures." Hyundai said it was "committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products" and pointed to several measures it had taken in response to the thefts, including making engine immobilizers standard on all vehicles starting in November 2021 and reimbursing customers for the purchase of steering wheel locks. Hyundai has partnered with AAA insurance companies to insure the affected vehicles in most states.


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