(The Hill) – Automakers Hyundai Motor America and Kia America, Inc. have agreed to pay roughly $200 million to settle a class-action lawsuit after the car companies saw a rise in thefts.
“The agreement, which could be valued at approximately $200 million depending on how many customers elect to participate, will provide cash compensation for customers who incurred theft-related vehicle losses or damage not covered by insurance, in addition to reimbursement for insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums, and other theft-related losses,” Hyundai said in a release.
Security concerns about certain Hyundai and Kia car models were raised after a viral TikTok challenge highlighted security weak points and showed how to hot-wire the vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in February that the social media challenge had led to at least 14 crashes and eight fatalities.
Hyundai and Kia rolled out free software updates to shore up the cars’ security, for which about 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias were estimated to be eligible — but the thefts did not appear to abate. The companies have also been working to distribute tens of thousands of steering wheel locks for impacted vehicles.
Last month, 18 state attorney generals sounded the alarm in a letter to the Department of Transportation about the vehicles.
The issues affect Hyundai and Kia vehicles “without push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices,” according to Hyundai. Customers whose cars can’t take the new software upgrade will get up to $300 to buy anti-theft devices, per the agreement.
“We appreciate the opportunity to provide additional support for our owners who have been impacted by increasing and persistent criminal activity targeting our vehicles,” said Hyundai Motor North America’s chief legal officer, Jason Erb.
Kia’s chief legal officer John Yoon said the agreement is the latest step “taken to help customers whose vehicles have been targeted by criminals using methods of theft popularized on social media.”