San Francisco: Automaker Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia have now faced a new lawsuit from New York City in the US, following a large number of vehicle thefts that went viral on TikTok and other social media platforms in recent years.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York claimed in its lawsuit that the automakers were negligent in failing to include anti-theft devices in their vehicles, which would have made them much more difficult to steal, reports The Verge.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.
According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the so-called “Kia Challenge” has led to hundreds of car thefts nationwide, including at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities.
A group of thieves known as the “Kia Boys” would post instructional videos on YouTube and TikTok about how to steal Kia vehicles. The videos showed how to bypass the vehicles’ security systems using tools as simple as a USB cable.
In September last year, Hyundai and Kia have been sued in the US for a defect in their cars that was exposed in a TikTok challenge, which resulted in vehicle thefts soaring across the country.
A class-action lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Orange County, California, alleging that Kias built between 2011 and 2021 and Hyundai cars built from 2015 to 2021 were “deliberately” built without “engine immobilisers”.
The challenge arrived on TikTok first and then on YouTube in July last year, and police in several cities in the US reported a serious rise in car thefts.
Last month, both automakers agreed to a $200 million settlement to resolve class-action litigation with owners of certain Hyundai and Kia vehicles without push-button ignitions and immobilising anti-theft devices, or the so-called “Kia Challenge”.