ST LOUIS, Missouri: The latest in a number of US cities to take action, St. Louis, Missouri, said this week that it will sue Hyundai and Kia for not installing anti-theft technology in millions of their vehicles.
Other US cities suing the two South Korean automakers include Cleveland, Ohio; San Diego, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Columbus, Ohio; and Seattle, Washington.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Missouri, aims to address increasing Hyundai and Kia thefts, through a method shown on TikTok and other forms of social media.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Highway Loss Data Institute, immobilizer devices were standard on 96 percent of US vehicles by 2015, but were installed on only 26 percent of 2015 model year Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
"Big corporations like Kia and Hyundai must be held accountable for endangering our residents and putting profits over people," said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones," according to the Associated Press.
As many Hyundai and Kia vehicles have no electronic immobilizers, which prevent break-ins and bypassing the ignition, they represent a large share of stolen cars in US cities, according to data from police and state officials.
TikTok videos showing how to steal Kia and Hyundai cars without push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices.
A group of 22 US state attorneys-general said last week that the automakers must do more to address the millions of US vehicles that are vulnerable to theft.
Also this week, Kia said that lawsuits by US cities over the thefts "are without merit," and "its vehicles comply with US theft protection regulations."
Since May 2022, St. Louis police received more than 4,500 reports of thefts of Kia or Hyundai vehicles, accounting for 61 percent of vehicles stolen in St. Louis.