The ramifications of the “Kia Boys” challenge that started on social media during the pandemic, which has unfortunately continued to this day, still haunt Hyundai and Kia. As the old adage goes, it's all fun and games — until preteens stealing cars results in a 1 billion dollar lawsuit.
What started as a “hack” on TikTok that showed bored preteens how to tear apart the steering columns on certain Hyundai and Kia models and jump-start them with a USB-A plugin has resulted in many lawsuits that the Korean automakers have been struggling to get dismissed.
In the latest edition to this unfolding saga, a U.S. District Judge has dismissed Hyundai and Kia's bid for the lawsuits against them to be dismissed.
If only Hyundai and Kia were as successful at getting lawsuits dismissed as teenage social media users are at stealing their poorly protected vehicles.
Why the Judge Refused Hyundai and Kia's Motion To Dismiss the Lawsuit
Citing “predictable consequences” over Hyundai and Kia's failure to install immobilizers, which is what keeps vehicles from starting unless a special key is present (hence why they could be “hacked” with a USB-A Plugin), U.S. District Judge James Selna of Santa Ana California wrote that “the level of fault is almost entirely on the defendants,” thus rejecting the Korean automaker's bids for the lawsuit's dismissal.
Hyundai and Kia are now in the hot seat as hundreds of insurers seek to recover what they claim amounts to $1 billion they owe drivers affected by the “Kia Boys” thefts.
The automakers claimed all liability should be with the insurers because they agreed to cover the vehicles. However, Judge Selna cited that the defendants “failed” to follow “federal regulations” by not including anti-theft devices on over 14 million of their vehicles that were manufactured from 2011 to 2022.
Hyundai is reportedly “disappointed with the decision” of the dismissal, while Kia is “confident that “the plaintiff's legal claims had no merit.”
A “Kia Boys” Refresher
An unfortunate social media trend started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Hyundai and Kia thefts went up a staggering 2,644 percent alone in 2021.
In September, the Korean automakers attempted to address this ongoing problem by issuing free steering wheel locks to customers whose vehicles were determined to be at risk of “Kia Boys” thefts. However, those steering wheel locks could easily be picked.
Hyundai and Kia's next solution was better, offering customers a free immobilizer kit that could be installed at dealerships or mobile pop-up service events. The automakers started an anti-theft website for customers to see when the mobile pop-up service will be visiting their area and to check their vehicle’s VIN to see if their car is vulnerable to a “Kia Boys” theft. Upon installation of this immobilizer software, customers are given a decal to show that their vehicle has been programmed with this anti-theft technology.
Both Hyundai and Kia claim to be working with law enforcement to address any “Kia Boys” related issues.
- Expertise: automotive news, dramatic writing & cinema.
- Education: San Francisco State University, B.A. Cinema Production (2013), San Francisco State University, M.F.A. Creative Writing (2021).
- Feature-length play Bill & Jenna (2021) was selected for professional play development at Z Space in San Francisco.
- Over 1,000 automotive news articles have been published on the web.
Jarret Hendrickson is a writer. He got his start when he was accepted into San Francisco State University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in 2018. While earning his degree, his short plays, The Captain (2019) & Fight Night (2020), were performed at San Francisco State University's annual Fringe Festival. His feature-length play Bill & Jenna (2021) was selected for the 2020 Greenhouse Professional Play Development Workshop at Z Space in San Francisco. While studying dramatic writing and screenwriting, he concluded that Se7en is the perfect modern screenplay. He received his MFA in the fall of 2021. In addition to his interest in writing and movies, Jarret also has a long-standing interest in automotive news, which dates back to his picking up a copy of MotorTrend when he was ten. His interest in all things automotive really blossomed at age 15 when he test-drove the 1994 Volvo SE that would accompany him for the next decade. His ongoing interest in cars helped him secure his first freelance writing job when he was hired to cover automotive news for axeladdict.com, where over 1,000 of his articles were published. You can find him on X (the social media platform formally known as Twitter) @jarrethsfpa and on Linkedin. Jarret currently covers the daily ebb and flow of the automotive industry for Wealth of Geeks.