A Los Angeles County Hyundai dealership that had customer vehicles towed from its store at customers' expense during the coronavirus outbreak has separated from the Korean automaker and is no longer selling its vehicles, according to Hyundai. The dealer's website also does not list any new Hyundai vehicles for sale.
Business ties between Nissani Bros. Hyundai in Culver City and Hyundai Motor America had already deteriorated before the March incidents in which customers who had dropped off cars for service complained that their vehicles were towed away and they were hit with large fees, according to the Los Angeles Times.
One customer, quoted by the Times, said she had dropped off her car for service with an engine problem, only to find out later that she owed thousands of dollars to a towing company. An unnamed dealership employee told the newspaper that it had tried to contact customers before having their vehicles towed because the store was closed.
A message left by Automotive News at Nissani Bros., which has several other franchises, was not immediately returned.
Although the towing incidents coincided with Los Angeles County orders that limited business activities, dealership service operations were allowed to remain open. Hyundai's corporate office stepped in to help the abandoned customers.
Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor told the Times the closure of the store had less to do with the virus outbreak than it did a soured business relationship, without elaborating.
The shutdown followed weeks of bad blood between the dealership — brothers Hooman and Rayan Nissani co-owned the store — and Hyundai, the paper reported.
"This dealership voluntarily ended its relationship with Hyundai on April 6, no longer represents Hyundai as one of its dealers, and is closed," Hyundai said in a statement. "Prior to the closing of the dealership, this dealer moved vehicles that had been dropped off for service to an offsite facility ... in order to vacate the property, without informing Hyundai nor the customers who had vehicles at the dealership for service and repair."
Once Hyundai was aware of the matter, the automaker worked with the towing operator to release the impounded vehicles and channel them to other Hyundai dealerships in the area to complete repairs. Hyundai said it would reimburse customers who had already paid the towing company to release their vehicles.