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(LEAD) Hyundai, Kia OK US$200 mln settlement in U.S. car theft class-action suit

Economy 16:24 May 19, 2023

(ATTN: UPDATES with details in paras 3, 7-11)

SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. and its smaller affiliate Kia Corp. said Friday they have agreed to a US$200 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed by U.S. consumers over a series of car thefts of their vehicles.

The consumer settlement covers U.S. owners of about 9 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles with traditional "turn-key-to-start" ignition systems.

The subjected vehicles are 2011-22 model year Hyundai and Kia cars without push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices.

Hyundai and Kia will compensate customers who suffered 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 companies said in a joint statement.

"We are 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," Jason Erb, chief legal officer at Hyundai Motor America, said in the statement, referring to the American Automobile Association.

For customers whose vehicles cannot accommodate the software upgrade, the companies will provide up to $300 for the purchase of steering wheel locks and other anti-theft devices, the statement said.

All Hyundai and Kia vehicles produced since November 2021 come with an engine immobilizer as standard equipment, the statement said.

Thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles spiked in the summer of 2022 due to Tiktok videos showing how to steal cars without the theft-prevention devices under the title "Kia Challenge."

On Friday, Hyundai and Kia fell 0.5 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, to 205,500 won and 88,700 won, underperforming the broader KOSPI's 0.9 percent gain.

They have set a combined sales goal of 7.52 million units this year, up 9.8 percent from the 6.85 million units they sold last year.

The two together form the world's third-largest carmaker by sales after Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen Group.

This file photo taken Oct. 24, 2022, shows Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp.'s headquarters buildings in Yangjae, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

This file photo taken Oct. 24, 2022, shows Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp.'s headquarters buildings in Yangjae, southern Seoul. (Yonhap)


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