About two dozen attorneys general implored Kia America and Hyundai Motor Co. to adequately address thefts of their models.
The coalition sent the carmakers a letter asking them to take immediate action on the issue.
They say the two were among the few carmakers that didn’t include antitheft technology known as engine immobilizers as standard in their U.S.-sold vehicles from 2011 to 2022, though those were standard in most other vehicles made during that period, including Kia and Hyundai models sold in Canada and Europe.
Theft of models without the devices is happening at an alarming rate, says the letter to the South Korean carmakers.
The office of California Attorney General Bonta, one of those signing the letter, says Kia and Hyundai models from the period in question have been stolen at high rates since about 2021. Videos of some thefts have been used to challenge others to steal the models. In Los Angeles, for instance, it says thefts of the models increased 85% last year. And the coalition says the thefts are often used to commit other crimes and have resulted in some fatalities.
Owners of the models are struggling to get them insured as a result, the attorneys general say.
The carmakers didn’t issue a recall of affected models but have offered a software upgrade to extend the length of alarms from 30 seconds to 60 and to require that the key be in the ignition to turn on the vehicle. They’ve also sent steering wheel locks to law enforcement agencies to give to vehicle owners.
But the attorneys general say the software upgrade won’t be available for most affected models until June and that it can’t be installed in others, and that while the carmakers’ campaign is positive, more should be done.
“Additionally, the companies have attempted to pass additional costs back onto the consumer by offering a glass-break security at a cost of $170, plus additional costs for installation …” Bonta’s office says.
The attorneys general have asked the carmakers to accelerate the software updates and to provide free alternative protections for models that can’t support it.
Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today