Why Kias are easy to steal in America, but not here

You may have heard of something called the ‘Kia Challenge’. Apparently, some Kias and Hyundais in the United States are too easy to swipe and many people do it for likes on TikTok. Last week, the brands settled in court for $200 million. The money goes to victims whose car has been stolen or, for example, seen their insurance premiums suddenly rise.

It’s not entirely clear how many cars have now been stolen by challenges, but there are at least thousands. You would think that such a trend would sweep through Europe, and we see a lot of theft in the Netherlands as well, but that’s not the case. There is a good reason for this: the Kia Challenge cannot be held in the Netherlands. This is due to European laws.

There are always immobilities in cars here

Since 1998, the EU has mandated that all car manufacturers who want to sell a new car in Europe must install an immobilizer. The immobilizer acts as a kind of digital key in addition to the physical key. So if you copy a car key here or turn the ignition lock with a screwdriver, nothing will happen. Or the car starts very briefly and immediately stalls again, which is also possible.

Many cars in the US have such immobilizers, but for some reason a ton of Kias and Hyundais between 2015 and 2019 were built without them. What the Tik Tok thieves did was knock on the window and turn the ignition lock with a USB charging cable (the car is often winded anyway). You can easily take the car with you.

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Now what about America?

The cars don’t have an immobilizer, but Kia and Hyundai have now rolled out a minor software update. After the update, the car will start only when the car is unlocked with the remote control. Additionally, you can now go to the dealer and get the immobilizer installed for Rs 500. Car brands also offer free steering wheel lock.

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