Seattle City Attorney Ann Davidson filed a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia. In this lawsuit, Davidson alleged that Hyundai’s and Kia’s failed to install anti-theft technology in some of their vehicles. Davidson’s allegation goes on to assert that the failures of these two car manufacturers to do so was a contributing factor in a very significant increase in the number of car thefts. A release from the city of Seattle states that car thefts involving Hyundai and Kia cars increased by a total of 503% for Hyundai cars and 363% for Kia cars.
Davidson’s lawsuit makes the allegation that both Hyundai and Kia were aware of public safety risks resulting from increased theft of their vehicles and that neither Hyundai nor Kia took meaningful action to address this issue. According to an insurance group statement in September, these Kia and Hyundai cars are stolen almost twice as often as most other cars because their keys do not have computer chips used in theft ‘immobilizer’ systems. Instructional videos shared on social media spread this information to more people. Simply put, the lack of these computer chips makes it much easier to steal these Hyundai and Kia cars.
Data from the Highway Loss Data Institute shows that the theft rate for Kia and Hyundai vehicles without immobilizers was 2.18 per 1,000 insured vehicle years. The theft rate for the remainder of the auto industry was 1.21. An insured vehicle year means one vehicle that is insured for one year. The Institute analyzed 2021 vehicle theft claims and shared its findings on January 21st, 2022.
Two drivers, Mike Engelhart and Phaedra Harmon, say that their vehicles were stolen using the vulnerability that these Kia and Hyundai vehicles have due to a lack of a computer chip for a theft immobilizer system. “…They smashed my screen, they carved in the back of my seat, they took a knife to the roof of my car…,” Harmon said. Engelhart also said that he discovered that the issue was quite common when he reported the vehicle theft. Kia and Hyundai both shared statements in response to the lawsuit filed on January 25th, 2022. These vulnerabilities are something to consider when purchasing vehicles from either Hyundai or Kia.