back to article New York City latest to sue Hyundai and Kia claiming their cars are too easy to steal

Hyundai and Kia cars were stolen 977 times in New York City in the first four months of 2023, and authorities have had enough. The startling figure was rolled out as the Big Apple filed suit against the companies' US subsidiaries, both owned by Hyundai Motor Company, alleging that their failure to implement modern security …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    So they are moving to legislate for immobilisers like a mature market or just throwing toys around like a toddler?

    1. teknopaul


      Nooo Republicans would object by default to any attempt to regulate an industry more.

      Better to have a long drawn out legal drama with (likely Republican) lawyers paid huge amounts on both sides.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The opposite world

    Reminds me of when our company was in Brussels

    and we received a reprimand of the police because our car-door was open when we empty the trunk. Not kidding.

    But arresting criminals or put a halt on riffraff behavior .. hey ho no no the police of Brussel had more serious stuff to do ...

    Like bulling people who where bringing in there groceries.

    Seems like the same logic of less paperwork and easy money in NY and same result for livability of the city...?

  3. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    While I agree good security is a good thing

    This is like suing window makers because windows can be broken with bricks.

    New York streets are peppered with 'preventative scaffolding'. It is frankly an eyesore, all brought about with good intentions. Read more here (2nd link on DDG):

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: While I agree good security is a good thing

      That analogy would track if the industry standard was shatterproof glass and one company decided to cut corners by using glass that bricks could shatter.

  4. heyrick Silver badge

    because regulations there expressly require them. It is only in the United States that

    There's your problem right there. Lax laws coupled with lax attitudes to security (on both sides) and some social media twattery...

    1. Sleep deprived

      Re: because regulations there expressly require them. It is only in the United States that

      In the US, you're supposed to remain ambushed in the car, heavily armed and wait for a thief to break in.

  5. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    The only option is....

    The only option to force companies to make changes for the better... is to make it unprofitable for them to do otherwise. It's literally the only way to deal with any business in a capitalist culture.

    You make the punitive cost so ridiculously large that any business simply can't risk the cost to themselves and their shareholders.

    if they save xx millions but cutting these corners... make it cost them xxx millions in compensation and damages.

    Hit them in the wallet/dividends... it's all they understand

    1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

      Re: The only option is....

      -> You make the punitive cost so ridiculously large that any business simply can't risk the cost to themselves and their shareholders.

      Which may well cause a business to move out of your jurisdiction = less choice for the consumer = higher prices.

      1. kat_bg

        Re: The only option is....

        Have you read the article? Hyundai/Kia used the said immobilizers in other markets, except US. So I guess they make enough profit if they do not leave those markets.

    2. YetAnotherXyzzy

      Re: The only option is....

      There is another option, which is to take your money elsewhere. There are other car manufacturers besides Hyundai and Kia.

      1. Sgt_Oddball

        Re: The only option is....

        Which is a nice thought until they all get the same idea and follow suit. Thus removing the choice (see mobile phones and integrated batteries, removal of headphone jacks, making them difficult to repair but fragile enough etc) from the consumer anyway.

        1. YetAnotherXyzzy

          Re: The only option is....

          To follow your example, see Fairphone. The market does provide options, even niche options for weirdos like myself who prefer a repairable phone rather than whatever slimline tat is fashionable this season.

      2. Lon24

        Re: The only option is....

        True - but when I bought my last car did I check to see if it had a immobiliser? No, because I assumed in this day and age it would. Did the US Hyundai/Kia promotion material make this misassumption clear? I doubt it. Indeed it's difficult to get any detailed technical information until you have bought the car and ploughed through the several hundred pages of how to tune the entertainment system.

        I'm afraid this is one clear case of getting big government to continually try to regulate big motor to protect us. Even they fail (Dieselgate) that cost countless lives so what hope the average motorist?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm confused. Why would anyone choose to nick a Kia or Hyundai? Or drive one. They're shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      They may be shit.

      But they are cheap shit.

      That's all that matters to some people. Never mind the quality, offshoring jobs, longevity, reliability. As long as they are cheap folks can just keep buying new ones and dumping the olds ones as someone else problem for "recycling".

      Just like many other modern products.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Firstly, because they are truly easy to steal

      And that is really the biggest part of this. To be easier it would have to be possible to steal it with paperclip(without rebending it).

      And unlike many other areas of out-of-control auto theft, like catalytic converters, the motive is not necessarily profit or vandalism. In some areas the kids stealing them joyride and then crash them when the tank gets low or they get bored posting their criminal history online. Other cases have involved stealing cars to use hit drive-by shootings, murders, or as getaway cars for other crimes. In both of those cases the boring nature of most of them aren't a downside.

      On the last point, their earlier efforts were not grear (People joking KIA stood for killed in action), and a few years ago anyone that owned one of their small sedans or hatches got to ride out a string of blown motors, so if you know them from that era I get it. I have similar memories of older ford fiestas and escorts. The new ones are MUCH better in both cases. Some of them verge on fun even.

      But this spate of thefts demands more than a steering wheel lock as a fix, even if the owners need to kick a little cash in for the upgrade. A low or no cost, off the shelf upgrade kit is needed to curb this tidal wave of thefts. Kia/Hyundai could turn this into a market opportunity if they sold an aftermarket upgrade kit for the rest of the in car bells and whistles to the middle trim level. Instead they are worried about dodging a recall and saving face, while some people have had their car stolen 2-3 times even with the recommended steering wheel lock in place.

      The brand was having and up swing, this is a dumb way to kill their momentum.

  7. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Come on, Reg

    There's a ton of misdirection going on because the actual hack is heavily censored. These Korean cars have a steering wheel lock module with an exposed ejector. Depress its latch and it comes off. The "USB" part of this story is that a thumb drive makes a good key once the lock module is removed; it's a joke.

    Even crappy old cars don't let you remove the steering wheel lock without the original key (or lots of force). With a bit less censorship, people could block the ejector latch and stop their cars from being stolen so trivially.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Too easy by far

      But there were plenty of other cars that made it pretty easy to strip outside of the ignition. Bunch of knuckleheads at my high school got busted for boosting cars and stereos back in the day. All they needed was a slim jim, an alligator clip jumper and a pin to release the ignition cylinder.

      This is even easier, and I agree that many outlets are trying to make it sound technical or like the thieves are hacking the car. The usb part of this is purely mechanical, as you point out, which is the real problem. And it's not like it's hard to find the details, though there are now a million rip-off videos clogging the search results.

      Sadly that also means that owners looking for info about DIY repair options are also having to wade through a river of crappy knock-off and rip-off results. So you might agree, but I think the manufactuer needs to step up and be more forthcoming about both the problem and better alternatives that would actually prevent the problem.

  8. willfe


    Why aren't they arresting and prosecuting the thieves instead of shouting at the lock makers?

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Wait...

      Why not both?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait...

      Who says they're not? (Though they do have to be identified, located, and evidence found, which is WAY more work.) But it's ridiculous how easy these cars are to steal, and that needs fixing too.

  9. jollyboyspecial

    All cars are ready to steal with the right equipment. Sometimes that equipment is a tow truck.

    If a thief wants your car then they will take it. It's unfortunately as simple as that. The solution for every car owner is simply make your car less easy to steal than somebody else's similar model. That doesn't usually mean enhanced security, it's simple things like choosing your parking place.

    The point being that improving security does not reduce car theft overall, if the thieves want a particular model of car they'll keep looking until they find an easy one to lift. The majority of car theft is to make money either by selling the whole car or more likely breaking the car and selling the high value parts which can't be traced.

    Sometimes thieves don't even bother talking the car, they just strip it right there of high value parts likely to be damaged in a low speed shunt. And this is where manufacturers can do their bit. Maybe don't charge over a grand for a headlight unit. Firstly there is no way those units cost even nearly that much to make, secondly they could be more modular. Why force buyers to replace a complete unit to resolve a cracked cover? It's not even a lens any more just a plastic cover. A cheap plastic cover. Simple answer is to maximise profit.

    Of course manufacturers aren't going to change without legislation. Individual lawsuits like this won't solve the problem.

  10. goodjudge

    "We emphasize the States because "Hyundai and Kia vehicles sold in the European and Canadian markets incorporate vehicle immobilizers, because regulations there expressly require them. It is only in the United States that Hyundai and Kia have chosen to sacrifice public safety for profits," the complaint claims."

    Hang on, I thought the US view was that governmental interfering in the commercial market = Soshulizm!?!?!!, not The American Way, and that what 'the market' provides must be therefore perfect otherwise consumers would not have bought it.

    1. YetAnotherXyzzy

      Well, the classical liberal view is that different buyers have different preferences, and the market (no need for scare quotes) ought to be left free enough to cater to them all. Want the cheapest car that money can buy? Kia's got you covered. Want a car that's hard to steal? They are available too, and the price is a nice reminder that you generally get what you pay for.

      1. kat_bg

        More correct, for US, that is a republican view... Liberals in Europe are situated on the right side of the political spectrum.

  11. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Resort to vandalism

    Is this a problem that connot be solved by either applying epoxy glue to the socket, or removing said socket completely with the help of a set of pliers?

  12. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

    Blae everything but the criminals

    Blame the gun, blame the car, but don;t blame the criminal.

    What they don't tell you is 90% of stolen cars are stolen with the owners in them! i.e. Carjacked!

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Blae everything but the criminals

      What they don't tell you is 90% of stolen cars are stolen with the owners in them! i.e. Carjacked!

      Where is that true? Where I live carjacking is almost unheard of.

  13. Tron Silver badge

    So the US are taking down South Korean car imports next.

    These backdoor trade blocks get more ingenious every day.

    Could this legislation be used on the miniature sweets that are sold today? They are far too easy for shoplifters to pocket. Not so easy in the 1970s when sweets were proper sized. We need a class action to Make Sweets Great Again.

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