Hyundai Motor Co will distribute free steering-wheel locks in the US and upgrade anti-theft software on four million vehicles after a spate of TikTok-inspired car thefts.
The viral videos target Hyundais and Kias that lack an electronic-security feature – called an engine immobiliser – that keeps the car from being started without a key. So far this year, New York police have arrested 109 suspects for thefts of certain models of Kia and Hyundai cars.
The South Korean carmaker said engine immobilisers have been standard on all Hyundai and Kia cars since November 2021. A free software upgrade to prevent the method of theft involved in the viral videos has been rolled out to one million customers, and a further three million drivers will be eligible for the upgrade in coming weeks, Hyundai said in a statement Friday.
It will also reimburse customers who have bought steering wheel locks and continues to provide steering locks to law enforcement agencies to distribute to local residents who own or lease affected models, it added. More than 23,000 locks have been distributed, Kia said in a separate statement.
“Hyundai Motor America is committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products,” the automaker said.
At least 20 state attorneys in the US have sent letters to Hyundai and Kia to urge the automakers to enhance anti-theft measures, with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department reporting that 80% of all vehicles stolen in its district last year were Kia or Hyundai models.
“We thank the Attorneys General for the opportunity to let them know what we have done and will continue to do to combat this rise in car theft and the role social media has played in encouraging it,” Kia said in its statement. – Bloomberg