Hyundai has reached a settlement agreement to resolve a class-action lawsuit related to a viral TikTok car theft challenge. The automaker has agreed to compensate approximately 9 million US Hyundai and Kia owners with a settlement worth up to $200 million.
Approximately $145 million from this total will be designated to compensate for out-of-pocket losses experienced by customers whose cars were stolen or damaged and lacked insurance coverage. Furthermore, the companies have pledged to cover insurance deductibles, elevated insurance premiums, and other related expenses.
Encompassing a wide array of Hyundai and Kia vehicles spanning from the model years 2011 to 2022, the settlement includes popular models like the Elantra, Santa Fe, Tucson, and the 2011-2014 Genesis Coupe.
Owners who experienced a total loss of their vehicle will be eligible for compensation of up to $6,125 per owner, while damages to the vehicle and personal property will be compensated up to $3,375.
To address the issue, the brands have already introduced an update that can be installed at dealerships. This update enhances theft prevention measures for specific models, including the 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata, and 2020-2021 Venue, by disabling push-to-start functionality and extending the alarm system.
Other eligible vehicles will receive their updates by June. As part of the settlement, Hyundai and Kia will also provide up to $300 to assist drivers in purchasing anti-theft devices. They have already supplied “tens of thousands” of free steering wheel locks to affected customers and have offered AAA insurance options to those who encountered difficulties in maintaining coverage.
Originating in mid-2022, the emergence of the “Kia Challenge” can be attributed to the TikTok videos shared by “Kia Boyz.” These videos showcased the utilization of USB cables to hot-wire Hyundai and Kia vehicles that lacked anti-theft immobilizers.
Consequently, there was a surge in thefts of these specific vehicle brands, leading to the intervention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency became involved after at least 14 accidents and eight fatalities were linked to the viral video clips.