Hyundai is accelerating the rollout of a software upgrade for vehicles not equipped with engine immobilizers as part of its response to the nationwide hotwiring frenzy spurred by social media posts showing how to easily steal models lacking the anti-theft device.
At the same time, AAA is stepping in to help Hyundai secure insurance coverage for owners of affected vehicles, following State Farm and Progressive's decision to stop writing new policies for models without immobilizers.
AAA will provide support for owners having "difficulty securing and sustaining auto insurance as a result of the increased criminal activity targeting Hyundai vehicles," Hyundai Motor America CEO Randy Parker said in a statement.
AAA insurers will issue new and renewal policies for eligible affected Hyundai customers in all states except Alaska, Massachusetts and Washington, where it does not offer insurance.
The initial Hyundai upgrade, announced in February, covered more than 1 million 2017-20 Elantra, 2015-19 Sonata and 2020-21 Venue model year vehicles, and the automaker promised availability to the remaining eligible vehicles by June. The faster rollout will now include all 3.8 million affected Hyundai models.
The upgrade can be performed at any Hyundai dealership and takes less than one hour for installation.
For a smaller group of 2011-22 model year vehicles that cannot accommodate the software upgrade, Hyundai says it will reimburse owners for their purchase of steering wheel locks. Hyundai is also preparing to provide this subset of customers with the option of obtaining reimbursement to offset their purchase of a different anti-theft device, such as an alarm kit.
About 4.5 million Kia vehicles built between 2011 and 2021 also were caught up in the auto theft craze, and they were eligible for the software upgrade announced earlier in the year. At that time, Kia said it had started notifying owners and anticipated making the upgrade available "over the next few months."
A Kia spokesperson told Automotive News that the company does not have information to share on whether it will partner with AAA or another company to provide similar insurance to affected vehicle owners.
"On the software upgrade front, before the end of April, Kia will have contacted close to 75 percent of their total affected population and is seeing strong response from owners for installation," the spokesperson said.