Eighteen states have asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall 2011- to 2022-model Hyundai and Kia models without antitheft technology due to a rash of vehicle thefts.
The request follows a series of lawsuits brought against the carmakers by some major U.S. cities over the thefts, plus a request by nearly two dozen attorneys general for the companies to more fully address the matter.
Just this week, Hyundai announced stronger measures to counteract the thefts of models without immobilizing antitheft features, saying it worked with AAA to insure vulnerable models and has expedited a software upgrade for those vehicles. Owners of models that can’t accommodate the software upgrade will get steering wheel lock purchase reimbursements.
Despite those moves, California has now led a coalition of states seeking the recalls, saying Hyundai and Kia are failing to “take adequate steps to address the alarming rate of theft of their vehicles,” said a press release by California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office.
Bonta said the systems of the models in question “remain out of compliance with federal standards and pose an unreasonable risk to public safety.”
“Instead of taking responsibility with appropriate corrective action, these carmakers have chosen instead to pass this risk onto consumers and our communities,” Bonta said in the release.
Models without the immobilizing technology as standard equipment were sold in the U.S. Thieves can bypass their ignition switches to start them, and some have even posted videos on social media showing others how to steal the cars.
Bonta’s office said some of the thieves have also engaged in reckless driving that has led to injuries and some deaths.
Reuters reported that Kia, whose parent is Hyundai, said that the models Bonta referred to comply with federal standards and that a recall isn’t appropriate or necessary.
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