Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 18 states, today called for a federal recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles following the companies’ continued failure to take adequate steps to address the alarming rate of vehicle thefts.
The letter, sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), encourages the NHTSA to recall unsafe Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022 that have easily-bypassed ignition switches and lack engine immobilizers that make the vehicles vulnerable to theft.
In a letter issued in March 2023, Raoul and a coalition of attorneys general urged the companies to take stronger steps to address the safety concerns caused by vehicles’ vulnerability to theft. Because the companies have failed to address safety issues, Raoul and the coalition are now calling on the NHTSA to step in. The attorneys general argue that the vehicles’ systems remain out of compliance with federal standards and pose an unreasonable risk to public safety.
“Kia and Hyundai have still not fully addressed vulnerabilities in certain models that have resulted in increased thefts in Illinois and around the nation,” Raoul said. “I am calling for a federal recall of unsafe Kia and Hyundai vehicles because I stand committed to protecting consumers and our communities from crime. Because these car companies have not done their part to prevent thefts, I am urging the federal government to help us protect our residents.”
From approximately 2010 to 2021, Hyundai and Kia failed to equip base vehicle models with engine immobilizers, which prevent the vehicle from operating without a key or key fob. In 2022 alone, there were over 7,000 Hyundai and Kia thefts in Chicago, which account for 10% of all registered Kia vehicles and 7% of all registered Hyundai vehicles in the city.
Raoul and the coalition assert Kia and Hyundai have not gone far enough in attempting to remedy their vehicles’ vulnerability to theft. While the companies have offered a software upgrade, the upgrade will not be available for many affected vehicles until June, or not installed at all for some 2011 to 2022 models. Vehicle owners who cannot receive the software upgrade can reportedly receive a free steering wheel lock from Kia and Hyundai, but the lock does not address the underlying ignition system flaw that makes the vehicles so vulnerable to theft.
According to Raoul and the attorneys general, the vehicles violate federal requirements to have a starting system that prevents the engine or motor and steering system from being activated when the key is removed. Additionally, the letter highlights the vehicles’ vulnerability to hotwiring and theft, which has created safety risks and consumed law enforcement and emergency responders’ resources. As a result, Raoul and the coalition are urging the NHTSA to take immediate action by instituting a recall of affected Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
Joining Raoul in the coalition are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.