Big Apple follows suit by suing Hyundai

If you feel like you need a fix of fresh lunacy, don’t worry, New York has got you covered.

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On 8 June, Reuters reported the city sued Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Corp on 6 June, accusing the South Korean automakers of negligence and creating a public nuisance by selling vehicles that are too easy to steal.

The most populous US city joined several other major cities that have sued Hyundai and Kia over the thefts, including Baltimore, Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Diego and Seattle.

In a complaint filed in the Manhattan Federal Court, New York faulted the automakers' failure from 2011 to 2022 to instal anti-theft devices called immobilisers on most of their cars, making them "nearly unique" among automobile manufacturers.

New York said this has "opened the floodgates to vehicle theft, crime sprees, reckless driving and public harm," exacerbated by TikTok videos showing how to steal cars that lack push-button ignitions and immobilizers.

The city said the number of reported stolen Hyundais and Kias doubled last year, followed by a "virtual explosion of thefts" in the first four months of 2023 with 977 reported thefts, up from 148 in the same period in 2022.

In contrast, the city said the theft of BMW, Ford, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan and Toyota vehicles has fallen this year.

The complaint seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Hyundai said in a statement that it made immobilisers standard on all vehicles in November 2021 and has taken steps, including a software upgrade to reduce the threat of theft.

Kia, in a statement, also cited its anti-theft efforts and said it was working with New York City law enforcement to combat car theft. It also called the city's lawsuit "without merit".

In February, Hyundai and Kia said they would offer software upgrades for as many as 8.3 million US vehicles that lack the immobilisers.

Last month, Hyundai and Kia reached a $200 million settlement of a consumer class action over the thefts.

That case covered about 9 million US vehicle owners and included as much as $145 million to cover losses for stolen vehicles, lawyers representing the owners said.

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