ILLINOIS, USA — Twenty-three attorneys general are pressing Kia America and Hyundai Motor Company to take more action to protect vehicle owners amid the ongoing car theft crisis.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and 22 others called on the car companies to accelerate a software upgrade and to provide other free protective measures. Raoul said these alternative protective measures should go to owners with vehicles that cannot support a software upgrade.
This has been an ongoing problem in the Greater St. Louis area, on both sides of the Mississippi River.
According to the attorneys general, from approximately 2010 to 2021, Hyundai and Kia “failed to equip base vehicle models with anti-theft immobilizers.” These are standard on almost every car on the market except for millions of Hyundai and Kia vehicles. This technology doesn't allow a car to start without a computer chip inside the key.
Although this technology was included in Kia and Hyundai base models sold in other countries, it was not included in vehicles sold in the U.S.
This coalition of attorneys general is not the only one demanding action in the Greater St. Louis area. St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones' office sent correspondence to the automakers last August. 5 On Your Side has talked to several residents who are suing as well.
Kia and Hyundai said they've rolled out actions of their own in response to the lawsuits, including safety checks.
Read the full statement from Raoul's office below:
Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 22 attorneys general, today called on Kia America (Kia) and Hyundai Motor Company (Hyundai) to take swift and comprehensive action to help remedy the crisis of car thefts that has occurred as a result of the companies’ failure to equip vehicles with anti-theft immobilizers.
From approximately 2010 to 2021, Hyundai and Kia failed to equip base vehicle models with anti-theft immobilizers, which prevent the vehicle from operating without a key or key fob. In 2022 alone, there were over 7,000 Hyundai and Kia thefts in Chicago, which account for 10% of all registered Kia vehicles and 7% of all registered Hyundai vehicles in the city.
Kia and Hyundai recently announced a customer service campaign to upgrade the software of affected vehicles; however, Raoul and the coalition said in a letter that the plan is insufficient, incomplete and long overdue.
'I urge Kia and Hyundai to accelerate a software upgrade to ensure consumers’ vehicles are properly equipped to guard against theft. Additionally, these companies need to provide free alternate protective measures to owners with vehicles that cannot support the software upgrade,' Raoul said. 'I stand committed to protecting consumers and our communities, and I urge these car companies to do their part to prevent these thefts.'
Raoul and the attorneys general explain that Kia and Hyundai chose not to include anti-theft immobilizers as standard equipment on several vehicle models sold in the United States, despite including the immobilizers on the same affected models sold in other countries. As a result, the number of thefts and the use of stolen vehicles to commit other thefts in the U.S. significantly increased.
Raoul and the attorneys general are urging the companies to accelerate the planned software upgrade because in addition to dealing with the risk of their vehicle being stolen, Hyundai and Kia owners now face the threat of being unable to insure their vehicles. According to the coalition, several major insurance companies are now refusing to insure the Hyundai and Kia models most susceptible to theft.
Joining Attorney General Raoul in submitting the letter were the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin, along with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.
To watch 5 On Your Side broadcasts or reports 24/7, 5 On Your Side is always streaming on 5+. Download for free on Roku or Amazon Fire TV.