Attorneys representing unhappy owners of easily hot-wired Hyundais and Kias suing the automakers have asked Congress to initiate an inquiry into the matter.
In a letter this month to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Jonathan Michaels, principal attorney for MLG Attorneys at Law of Costa Mesa, Calif., said auto thefts resulting from the absence of factory engine immobilizers on certain trims of Hyundai and Kia's vehicles spanning the 2016-2021 model years have infringed on public safety and strained law enforcement and first responders in affected cities.
The appeal for congressional involvement is part of an effort to turn up the heat on Hyundai and Kia to implement a voluntary recall of about 8.4 million vehicles.
Cantwell's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hyundai maintains that its vehicles are "fully compliant with federal anti-theft requirements," according to a spokesperson.
Kia also asserts that its vehicles "fully comply" and that a recall is "neither appropriate nor necessary under federal law" since no security defect in the vehicles exists.
A recall of the scope in question could cost the automakers as much as $5 billion, according to several attorneys on the case.