New York City filed a lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia on Tuesday over the two car manufacturers’ handling of a vulnerability that made their vehicles primary targets for car theft.
The suit is one of several launched by major U.S. cities accusing both automakers of negligence. In 2022, social media users discovered a simple method for hotwiring select 2010-2021 Hyundai and Kia models with a USB cord. Knowledge of the vulnerability spread on sites such as TikTok, where accounts posted videos demonstrating the process as part of the “Kia Boys” trend. Once popularized, many regions reported significant jumps in crimes targeting vehicles made by the two car manufacturers, which in some areas accounted for 60% of auto thefts.
However, in its case, New York City alleged that the two brands failed to respond to the trend adequately. While Hyundai and Kia did release a software update making the vehicles more difficult to steal, the lawsuit claims that the fix did not go far enough to halt criminal activity and that the car manufacturers should have instead installed physical anti-theft devices. The city also says that the lack of such devices makes the models “nearly unique” compared to other models on the market.
In May, both Hyundai and Kia settled in a class action lawsuit over the same issue, agreeing to pay $200 million in out-of-pocket losses to owners of stolen or damaged vehicles. The two car manufacturers also agreed to compensate drivers for steering wheel locks and other countermeasures to make their vehicles safer.