Hyundai and Kia announced an agreement on Friday to settle a lawsuit brought by car theft victims after a TikTok “challenge” showed how easy it was to steal some models.
The deal could cost both South Korean automakers up to $200 million, most of which will go toward compensating people for theft-related losses, according to the companies.
The judge must decide whether or not to agree to the settlement.
“This settlement is the latest step in a series of significant actions Kia has taken to help customers whose vehicles have been attacked by criminals using theft tactics popular on social media,” John Yun, Kia America’s chief legal officer, said in a joint statement.
Thefts of Kia and Hyundai cars rose in the US in the middle of last year after videos were shared on TikTok showing how some models could be easily stolen, according to the companies.
Hyundai and Kia said the videos promoted the “Kia Challenge” competition, which challenges people to steal cars.
Auto thefts related to the challenge have resulted in at least 14 accidents and eight deaths, according to NHTSA, the US Highway Safety Agency.
TikTok did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.
The companies estimated that about 9 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles on the road in the United States are “at risk or exposed to these social media thefts”.
“We welcome the opportunity to provide additional support to our owners who have been impacted by the increased and ongoing criminal activity targeting our vehicles,” said Jason Earp, Hyundai North America’s Director of Legal.
Arp added that Hyundai will continue to update the software of its cars, distribute steering wheel locks and help owners who have difficulty obtaining insurance due to theft risks.
Yoon said Kia is taking similar steps.
Hyundai and Kia have updated their anti-theft software and provided tens of thousands of steering wheel locks to vehicle owners in US states, according to NHTSA.
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