Thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles compared to other manufacturers are soaring, finds the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute.
IIHS found U.S. theft claims were nearly twice as common for Hyundai Motor and Kia Corp. than other manufacturers vehicles for the 2015 through 2019 model years.
Many 2015-19 model year Hyundai and Kia vehicles lack electronic immobilizers that prevent people from breaking in and bypassing the ignition. This feature is standard equipment on most other vehicles manufactured during that timeframe, IIHS said.
The insurance group said immobilizers were standard on 62% of models from other manufacturers in model year 2000, rising to 96% by 2015. But the technology was standard on just 26% of 2015 model year Hyundai and Kia vehicles, it said.
Hyundai and Kia report their vehicles meet U.S. motor vehicle standards but noted they are being targeted in a "coordinated effort" by social media users. Hyundai added engine immobilizers to all vehicles produced after Nov. 1, 2021, while Kia added this technology in the 2022 model year.
Hyundai will begin offering a security kit for purchase at its dealerships as of October 1. The kit targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles.
"Criminals are seeking vehicles solely equipped with a steel key and 'turn-to-start' ignition system. The majority of Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a key fob and 'push-button-to-start' system, making them more difficult to steal," Kia said.
The group said that after social media attention in Wisconsin in 2021, overall losses from Hyundai and Kia thefts soared to more than 30 times the 2019 level.
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