A viral dare known as the TikTok car theft challenge has caused automotive manufacturer Hyundai to pay $200 million USD (about $270 million CAD) in compensation to nearly 9 million Hyundai and Kia owners in the U.S.
The challenge in question started as the ‘Kia Challenge’ in 2022 when users ‘Kia Boyz’ took to the platform and demonstrated how USB cables could be used to hot-wire many Hyundai and Kia cars without anti-theft immobilizers.
As you can imagine, car thefts for Kia models soared shortly after, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration even having to get involved after 14 or more crashes, along with eight deaths, were linked to the viral challenge.
Close to $145 million is being slated to go towards out-of-pocket losses due to customers’ cars being damaged or stolen entirely. Insurance deductibles, high insurance premiums and additional expenses will also be covered by the company in the class-action lawsuit.
The company’s settlement will cover a handful of Hyundai and Kia cars released between 2011 and 2022, such as the Santa Fe, Tucson and Elantra models. Owners who experienced the total loss of their cars could see up to $6,125 in settlements, with up to $3,375 possibly being awarded for customers who saw damages done to their vehicle and any personal property.
The brands have also taken a step towards better security measures, with a dealership-installed update looking to improve theft prevention on certain models. Models such as the 2015-2019 Sonata, 2017-2020 Elantra and 2020-2021 Venue will no longer have a push-to-start feature, and their alarms will be lengthed. Other vehicle models eligible for upgrades will receive them by June 2023.
Hyundai and Kia are also offering up to $300 to customers who want to purchase anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks. They have also provided AAA insurance options to those who haven’t been able to maintain coverage.
Hyundai Canada was also recently fined for a safety defect notification delay back in April 2023.