According to the companies, it is all because of social media companies, such as TikTok and Instagram, where instructions on how to steal the cars have been widely shared and thieves show off their stolen cars.
Lawyers representing the two corporations -- which are owned by the same parent company – are trying to argue a $200 million class-action settlement in a US court.
The argument devotes a section titled "Social Media and Intervening Third-Party Criminals Caused An Unprecedented Increase In Thefts." The lawyers argue in that section that because Kia and Hyundai vehicles have "not been the subject of significant theft" before the Kia Boys social media trend, social media and the people who steal the cars -- and not the car companies -- are to blame for the thefts.
This argument is summarised in the section titled "Social Media Incited Unprecedented Rise In Thefts." The filing broadly reflects both the public communications strategy Kia and Hyundai have used throughout this crisis and some of the national news headlines that have covered the story.
Certain Hyundai and Kia models made from 2010 to 2021 lack a standard engine immobiliser, which prevents a car from starting without the key present.
As a result, thieves discovered they could start and steal these cars easily, in some cases using just a USB cord.
The carmakers eventually provided owners with a free software upgrade, but that was seen as being too little, too late.