Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia said on Wednesday that they have asked a US court to reject class-action lawsuits filed in 17 cities over a series of car thefts of their vehicles.
In their documents submitted to the US court, Hyundai and Kia said they should not be held accountable for thefts resulting from an unprecedented criminal social-media phenomenon, reports Yonhap news agency.
The lawsuits came after thousands of thefts of the carmakers’ vehicles spiked in the summer of 2022 due to Tiktok videos showing how to steal cars without the theft-prevention devices under the title “Kia Challenge.”
The 17 cities include New York, San Diego, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Columbia and Seattle.
The South Korean carmakers also said subjected state governments are responsible for the thefts, citing their lack of budget and lax policing to prevent auto theft and reckless joyriding.
In February, the carmakers said they would provide software upgrades to 8.3 million units of their vehicles sold in the United States without push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices.
All Hyundai and Kia vehicles produced since November 2021 come with an engine immobilizer as standard equipment, according to the companies.
In May, they agreed to a $200 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed by US consumers for failing to install anti-theft technology in the affected vehicles.