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City of Buffalo Press Releases

Posted on: March 31, 2023

City of Buffalo Files Lawsuit Against Kia and Hyundai

On March 30, 2023, City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Corporation Counsel Cavette A. Chambers, and Keller Rohrback L.L.P. filed suit against Kia America, Inc. and Hyundai Motor America. Buffalo intends to join Seattle, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, St. Louis, Madison, and Milwaukee in multidistrict litigation that seeks to hold Kia and Hyundai accountable for placing profits over safety and manufacturing, distributing, and marketing cars that are dangerously easy to steal. The City of Buffalo is the first municipality in New York State to file this lawsuit against Kia and Hyundai for the public nuisance they have caused our community. 

Together, the City of Buffalo and Keller Rohrback will seek to hold those automobile manufacturers responsible for the rash of auto thefts caused by their failure to include in these vehicles important, industry-standard anti-theft technology. In Canada and Europe, Kias and Hyundais come equipped with engine immobilizers. In the United States, this technology has long been the industry standard. By 2015, 96% of automobiles from other manufacturers had immobilizers. Entry-and-mid level Kias and Hyundais are the exception. Only 26% of 2015-model year Hyundais and Kias included immobilizers, leaving almost 75% of these vehicles unreasonably easy to steal

Senator Chuck Schumer recently called out Kia and Hyundai for the dangerous surge of thefts. In a joint press conference with Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown and Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph A. Gramaglia, Senator Schumer noted “how predictable and avoidable” this spike in crime is, stating that “these absurd car thefts are wreaking havoc on our Upstate communities, burdening law enforcement and creating public safety issues, and it is time for Kia and Hyundai to step up and put the brakes on this dangerous trend.” 

Mayor Brown noted, “The tragedy of four teenagers losing their lives shows that more needs to be done to stop Kia and Hyundai vehicles from being stolen. It’s time for Buffalo to take a stand and to hold these vehicle manufacturers accountable for the havoc they are unleashing on our community.” 

Thefts of Hyundais and Kias have skyrocketed in Buffalo, increasing over 2,000% in January 2023 compared to the same time period the previous year. In the last three months, Hyundais and Kias have made up between 57% and 67% of all vehicle thefts in the City. The rampant rise in theft of Hyundais and Kias consumes and diverts vital law enforcement and emergency resources and deprives the public of safe streets and sidewalks. “These vehicles are being stolen at an alarming rate due to the lack of immobilizing technology. This has resulted in a significant issue that impacts our police resources and the community that we serve,” said Commissioner Gramaglia. Most tragically, it poses a threat to public safety because it goes hand in hand with reckless driving, which in turn results in injuries and death. 

Five months ago, a stolen Kia Sportage driven by a 16-year-old was involved in a fatal accident on the Kensington Expressway. Four of the passengers, aged 14 to 19 died, and the fifth, along with the driver, sustained serious injuries2

Hyundai and Kia have cut corners, shifting part of the cost of their business onto Buffalo and its citizens. This is unacceptable. Hyundai and Kia could have easily prevented this problem, and they could have easily fixed it long ago by recalling the vehicles and updating the ignition technology. Buffalo is taking this action to force Hyundai and Kia to do what’s right—fix the cars and address the effects of the crime wave that their failure to install the technology in the first place has caused our community.

1 “Hyundai and Kia theft losses,” 38 HLDI Bulletin 28 (December 2021),

2 Aidan Joly & Evan Anstey, Regional News, Four teens killed in rollover crash in Buffalo, two injured, ROCHESTERFIRST.COM (Oct. 25, 2022, 12:26 PM),

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