Hyundai and Kia will pay more than US$200 million (A$302 million) to the owners of up to 9 million cars in the USA.
The carmakers were sued as their cars weren’t fitted with engine immobilisers, allowing them to be stolen by thieves using a USB cable – as exposed by American thieves dubbed The Kia Boys on social network TikTok, leading to a spike in thefts.
Australian cars aren’t caught up in the lawsuit; immobilisers have been mandatory here since July 1, 2001.
Hyundai and Kia rolled out a software update for most vehicles lacking an immobiliser, which means the cars can’t be started when a key isn’t present, and the alarm runs for longer.
Upon completion, owners will receive a window decal to ward off potential thieves.
Automotive News reports just shy of three quarters of the settlement will go towards losses experienced by owners of the affected vehicles, including cars that have been lost or stolen, damaged vehicles, loss of property, and insurance-related expenses.
Part of the settlement will also see owners with vehicles unable to be updated given $300 to invest in alternative anti-theft measures.
This may not be the end of litigation surrounding the affected Hyundai and Kia vehicles. A number of municipalities have sued the carmakers for failing to equip their cars with immobilisers, and more than 65 insurers filed have filed suit.
The American National Highway Traffic Safety Authority reported in February the crime spree resulted in 14 crashes and eight deaths, including a 71-year-old man struck by teenagers driving a stolen Kia in Chicago.