SEOUL -- The global bosses at Hyundai and Kia are still weighing a congressional call to have their top U.S. executives testify about a rash of reported noncollision fires in their vehicles as they work with regulators to address safety concerns.
In separate interviews Thursday at the South Korean carmakers' headquarters here, Wonhee Lee, CEO of Hyundai Motor Co., and Han-woo Park, CEO of Kia Motors Corp., said their companies are considering how to best respond to the request they talk before lawmakers in Washington.
In the meantime, they said, Hyundai and Kia are coordinating with NHTSA, the nation's top auto safety regulator, to ensure safety and to identify root causes of the reported fires.
"We are in the process of responding to this recent inquiry regarding vehicle fires," Kia's Park said. "The technical finding is the first. The first step is fact finding."
Hyundai's Lee said the matter is a top priority and added that Hyundai and Kia rank below average in the number of noncollision fires reported in the U.S. market.
"We have to handle that issue very seriously," Lee said.
"But ironically, Hyundai and Kia, statistically in the U.S. market, are not the companies ranked at the top of vehicle noncollission fires," he said. "Actually, we are almost at the bottom."
Hyundai said that although complaints have spiked recently, rates of noncollision fire cases involving its vehicles are below the industry average over the long term.