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Kia, Hyundai push to cut car thefts: Manufacturers offering anti-theft software

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Kia and Hyundai are pushing to a fix a problem that led Cleveland and other major cities to sue the automakers over a nationwide wave of stolen vehicles.

Both manufacturers are offering anti-theft software installations at no price to drivers and hosting community events to install the devices. Dealerships have begun the process, allowing drivers to make appointments for the fixes.

The automakers are expected to host events in cities across the country to help car owners with the issue.

From 2011 to 2021, the car companies manufactured many of their cars without engine immobilizers, a device that costs about $100 and stops vehicles from being hot-wired.

The device is not required in the United States, and Kia and Hyundai drivers have felt the burden, as online videos detailed how to steal the cars using a screwdriver and a USB cable. It takes some thieves less than a minute to drive off with a car.

The number of thefts in Northeast Ohio led to outcries from drivers, politicians and law enforcement officials.

Cleveland filed a lawsuit last spring against Hyundai Motor America and Kia America Inc., alleging that the companies produced vehicles with poor anti-theft devices that enabled thieves to terrorize motorists while forcing police officers to spend countless calls tracking stolen cars. Parma filed a similar suit a few months later.

The cases are pending in a federal court in California, where lawsuits from across the country have been consolidated.

Kia is considering an event in Cleveland this spring to make it easier for eligible customers to have the upgrade installed. It also is partnering with Carfax to inform owners that their vehicles are eligible for the fix, said James Bell, a spokesman for Kia America. He made the comments last month after a reporter’s car was stolen in Ohio City. The manufacturer held a similar event in Columbus in October.

“We plan on announcing a new series of events, including Ohio, in the very near future,” Bell said in an email Wednesday.

Nearly 1 million vehicles nationwide have received the upgrade, and more than 335,000 free steering wheel locks have been given to Kia drivers.

“Kia is committed to continuing to work with law enforcement agencies in the Cleveland area and the country to combat car theft and the role social media has played in encouraging it, and we remain committed to supporting our customers and to vehicle security,” Bell said in a statement.

In December, Kia released a new hardware modification — an ignition cylinder protector — designed for vehicles that are not eligible for the security software upgrade, Bell said.

“The protector helps combat theft by reinforcing the ignition cylinder body and preventing its removal through brute force and is available through a free service campaign,” Bell said.

Hyundai has partnered with more than 850 law enforcement agencies throughout the country to not only raise awareness of the issue but also provide residents with the right tools, resources and anti-theft devices that help protect their vehicles and themselves.

Engine immobilizers are now standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced as of November 2021.

Hyundai is also hosting mobile anti-theft service centers in cities around the country to further drive software installations, which Nathan Edmonds, the director of warranty and dealer technical support for the automaker, said is complex.

The clinics are in partnership with local government officials, law enforcement agencies and community groups, a press release from the manufacturer said.

“This initiative is being replicated across other major metropolitan areas including Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Cleveland,” a statement from the company said.

“Hyundai is also supporting several single-day, regional clinics operated by Hyundai dealers across the country, including in Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, Nevada and Ohio.”

Ira Gabriel, a spokesperson for Hyundai, said the manufacturer wanted to have a presence in the cities impacted by theft.

“We wanted to go out into the affected community and really be a part of them and help by identifying areas of the country that were hardest hit,” he said.

This article was originally published by a www.limaohio.com . Read the Original article here. .

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