Attorney General Ellison urges court to strengthen Hyundai/Kia private consumer class-action settlement

Leads coalition of 7 AGs in advocating that settlement require Hyundai and Kia to recall and install industry-standard, anti-theft technology in their theft-prone vehicles

August 14, 2023 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced today that he has led a coalition of seven attorneys general in urging the federal court overseeing a private, consumer class-action settlement involving Hyundai and Kia to strengthen the settlement by requiring the companies to recall or buy back their theft-prone vehicles and equip them with engine-immobilizer technology that the vehicles currently lack. In a letter to the court, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition stress that any measure short of this will not stem the ongoing public-safety crisis of auto thefts, dangerous joyriding and collisions, and violent crime that Hyundai and Kia’s theft-prone vehicles have wrought in Minnesota and across the country. 

Among the terms of the private consumer settlement as currently proposed are a requirement that Hyundai and Kia provide a “software upgrade” for only a certain subset of their vehicles that will extend the length of the vehicles’ alarm from 30 seconds to 1 minute and requires the key to be in the ignition to start the vehicle. For vehicles for which this software upgrade is incompatible, the settlement requires Hyundai and Kia to reimburse consumers up to $300 for their purchase of a wheel lock or anti-theft system.   

In the letter that Attorney General Ellison led, he and the coalition express grave concerns that these remedies are insufficient to resolve the ongoing rash of Hyundai and Kia thefts that continue to harm public safety. For example, the supposed “software upgrade” is not feasible for approximately 2.3 million theft-prone vehicles, is being slowly rolled out in phases that will take months (or years) to complete, and requires consumers to proactively seek it out. The attorneys general also explain their serious concerns with the effectiveness of the “software upgrade,” as it has already been available for six months or more in the real world and during that time the high rate of Hyundai and Kia thefts has not abated, with ensuing harms to public safety. For example, in July 2023, the number of Hyundai and Kia vehicles stolen (313 vehicles) in Minneapolis alone was still more than 15 times higher than it was in July 2021 (20 vehicles). 

“This issue is simple: too many Kia and Hyundai vehicles lack industry-standard anti-theft technology that nearly every other vehicle in America has. Because Kia and Hyundai continue to refuse to voluntarily recall these vehicles and install at their own expense the technology the vehicles should have had in the first place, public safety in Minnesota and across the country is still at risk,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I led this national coalition of attorneys general to make sure the court overseeing the private consumer class action is aware of the remedies we strongly believe are necessary to put an end to this ongoing crisis that Hyundai and Kai caused. No matter how the court ultimately rules, however, our investigation will continue and we will take any and all law-enforcement action necessary to protect public safety.” 

The hearing for preliminary approval of the private consumer class-action settlement will be held on Tuesday, August 15 at 3:00 pm Pacific Time before the Honorable James V. Selna of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Santa Ana, California.  

Minnesota has experienced a drastic increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts 

People who want to steal cars are well aware of the lack of anti-theft technology in many of Kia and Hyundai’s vehicles, which has led to a drastic increase of Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts throughout the nation, including in Minnesota. For example, reported thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles increased by 836% in Minneapolis and 611% in Saint Paul from 2021 to 2022. Some vehicles have even been stolen multiple times in the same year. 

These stolen vehicles have been used in violent crimes in Minnesota and have been involved in numerous traffic collisions, some of which have been fatal. For example, in Minneapolis alone, in 2022 Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts were tied to at least:  

These are not just numbers; they are public-safety incidents that have caused substantial and serious harm to our neighbors and communities. As just one example, in December 2022, a 14-year-old boy lost his life in Minneapolis after getting into a single-vehicle crash that involved a stolen Kia. 

Joining Attorney General Ellison in today’s letter are the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington.  

AG Ellison leading fight to make Kia, Hyundai vehicles safer 

Attorney General Ellison has been leading the fight to make Kia and Hyundai vehicles safer since early 2023. Today’s letter to the federal court follows Attorney General Ellison’s announcement in March 2023 that he was launching a civil investigation into Hyundai and Kia’s sale of these theft-prone vehicles. Today’s letter also follows an April 2023 letter Attorney General Ellison sent as part of a coalition of 18 attorneys general that called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to recall Hyundai’s and Kia’s theft-prone vehicles, as well as a March 2023 letter he sent with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III to Kia and Hyundai that pressed the companies for an immediate safety recall to stem the rise of thefts of their vehicles. 

Attorney General Ellison’s civil investigation is active and ongoing. 

Attorney General Ellison urges Minnesota consumers who wish to report concerns about the theft or risk of theft of their Kia or Hyundai vehicles to submit a complaint online or call the Attorney General’s Office at (651) 296-3353 (Metro area), (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota), or (800) 627-3529 (Minnesota Relay).