Sep 22, 2022 - Economy

These Hyundai and Kia vehicles are twice as likely to be stolen as other cars

A white vehicle sits on the floor of an auto show with a plug plugged into a charging device

A Hyundai Sonata plug-in hybrid at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Hyundai and Kia vehicles from model years 2015 through 2019 are nearly twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles from the same period, according to a new report.

Driving the news: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which tracks theft claims, said Thursday that the problem stems from the fact that many of the Hyundai and Kia vehicles "lack electronic immobilizers that prevent thieves from simply breaking in and bypassing the ignition."

  • "The feature is standard equipment on nearly all vehicles of that vintage made by other manufacturers," IIHS said in the report.

Context: The study confirms a recent report by Axios' Annalise Frank that Hyundai and Kia vehicles have been the targets of theft nationwide, fueled by online videos showing how easy they are to steal.

  • Hyundai and Kia — sibling brands that share many of the same parts and design — are part of the same Korean automotive manufacturer.

By the numbers: Immobilizers are not new equipment. They had already become standard on 62% of new models from other manufacturers by 2000, according to IIHS.

  • By 2015, only 26% of Hyundai and Kia vehicles had them, while 96% of other vehicles did, IIHS reported.

What they're saying: Hyundai said in a statement that it "is concerned" about the increase in thefts and acknowledged that criminals are taking aim at Hyundai vehicles without immobilizers "in a coordinated effort on social media." 

  • "Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles produced after November 1, 2021," Hyundai said, adding that the company is helping to provide steering wheel locks to owners of vehicles without immobilizers and and plans to offer security kits.
  • Kia said in a statement that it "remains concerned about the increase in auto thefts of a subset of Kia vehicles."
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