Safety First

NHTSA slaps Hyundai, Kia with $210 million penalty for engine failures

The Theta II engine, shown here in the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, was the subject of a massive recall.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Half a decade's worth of Hyundai and Kia vehicles have been effected by recalls regarding their Theta II engines. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an inquiry into the timelines of the recalls, which were issued from 2015 to 2017 for engines and found that both Hyundai and Kia conducted untimely recalls and reported inaccurate information to the NHTSA.

Hyundai and Kia share common ownership.

The Theta II engine came in 2.4-liter and 2.0-liter variants. Over 1.6 million vehicles came equipped with the engine including 2011-2014 model year Hyundai Sonatas, 2013-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sports, 2011-2014 Kia Optimas, 2012- 2014 Kia Sorentos, and 2011-2013 Sportages.

NHTSA detailed the engine defect in its consent orders with the companies:

"Metal debris may have been generated from factory machining operations as part of the manufacturing of the engine crankshaft which may not have been completely removed from the crankshaft's oil passages during the cleaning process. In addition, the machining processes of the crankpins caused an uneven surface roughness. As a result, the metal debris and uneven surface roughness can restrict oil flow to the bearings, thereby increasing bearing temperatures causing premature bearing wear. A worn connecting rod bearing will produce a cyclic knocking noise from the engine and may also result in the illumination of the engine warning lamp and/or oil pressure lamp in the instrument panel. If the warnings are ignored and the vehicle is continued to be driven, the bearing may fail and the vehicle could stall while in motion."

"Safety is NHTSA's top priority," said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. "It's critical that manufacturers appropriately recognize the urgency of their safety recall responsibilities and provide timely and candid information to the agency about all safety issues."

The $210 million is an amount split between the two companies. Kia is responsible for $70 million of the payout. According to the signed consent order between the company and the NHTSA, Kia is required to pay $27 million by January 22, 2021. An additional $27 million payment is deferred and held in abeyance by NHTSA pending Kia's satisfactory completion of the stipulations of the order. Kia is required to pay an additional $16 million to create advanced data analytics capabilities to enhance its ability to detect and study emerging safety-related defect trends on its vehicles.

Kia has also committed to creating a Kia Safety Office, which will be headed by a Chief Safety Officer (CSO) who is authorized to exercise all safety-recall decision-making for the United States market, independently and without approval from Kia Motors Corporation including its parent company in Korea. The CSO is expected to have a continuing relationship with the NHTSA on this issue and future safety concerns.

Hyundai will pay $140 million in civil penalties for their actions regarding the recall. The first chunk, $54 million, is expected to be paid by January 22, 2021. An additional $46 million payment is deferred and held in abeyance by NHTSA pending Hyundai's satisfactory completion of the stipulations of the order. Hyundai is required to invest $40 million into safety infrastructure. That amount is further broken down into two parts: $15 million for the ability to detect and study emerging safety-related defect trends on its vehicles and $25 million for a test and inspection laboratory.

Like with Kia, Hyundai is required to hire a CSO. In Hyundai's case, that individual will lead the HMNA North American Safety Office while making independent decisions regarding recalls and safety issues. Like Kia's CSO, this individual is expected to have a continuing relationship with the NHTSA.

Additionally liabilities and penalties are possible.

Hyundai has already appointed its CSO, Brian Latouf. Latouf joined Hyundai after a long career working inn various safety-centric positions at General Motors.

"Customer safety is our highest priority and we are taking immediate action to enhance our response to potential safety concerns," said Latouf. "We value a collaborative and cooperative relationship with the U.S. Department of Transportation and NHTSA, and will continue to work closely with the agency to proactively identify and address potential safety issues. We are committed to a best in class U.S. safety office."

Trending News

 
 

New compact pickup truck

Hyundai announces pricing for Santa Cruz pickup

It's small, but the Santa Cruz can do plenty of truck stuff like the big guys.

Hyundai

Looking at American trucks over the years, it's hard to ignore their growing size and price, but 2021 might just be the year that bucks that trend. Earlier in the year, Ford announced the compact Maverick pickup truck, and after months of rumors, Hyundai did the same. The Santa Cruz will be a small unibody pickup designed in California and built in Alabama. Today, the automaker announced pricing for the upcoming vehicle.

Pricing for the Santa Cruz starts at $23,990, which after the $1,185 destination charge comes to $25,175. That reasonable sum buys the base SE trim, which comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. Hyundai estimates that the base engine produces 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, while the available turbocharged 2.5-liter engine makes 275 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.

Other standard features include:


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz The Santa Cruz rides on a unibody frame, which gives it a better ride than most trucks.Hyundai


  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • LED taillights
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Rear occupant alerts
  • Driver attention warnings
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Speed limit warnings
  • Leading vehicle departure alerts

Despite its size and unibody construction, the Santa Cruz does offer traditional truck capabilities. With the base engine on board, the vehicle is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, and with the turbocharged engine that number increases to 5,000 pounds. The unibody setup also gives the Santa Cruz a more car-like ride and handling, which improves comfort. It's a configuration that is also used by the Honda Ridgeline and the upcoming Ford Maverick pickups.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz The Santa Cruz has a useful bed that can be configured a few ways.Hyundai


Hyundai started building the Santa Cruz at its Montgomery, Alabama factory in June. The automaker says that its production will eventually add 1,200 jobs to the facility, and notes that the vehicle will go on sale sometime later this summer. We're heading out to drive the new Santa Cruz in early August, so stay tuned for a first-drive review in a few weeks.

Trending News

 
 

New appearance package

2022 Kia Stinger gets new Scorpion Package

The range-topping GT2 trim is available with a new Scorpion Package.

Kia

Passenger cars have been losing ground to SUVs and trucks in the United States for years, but that hasn't stopped some automakers from continuing to build compelling, fun-to-drive coupes and sedans. Kia is among them, and has just announced a new addition to its Stinger lineup for 2022. The fastback sedan will still offer blazing performance from either a turbocharged four-cylinder or twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine, but will also be available with a special edition package that adds unique exterior styling and interior trim pieces.


Kia Stinger GT2 with Scorpion Package The package includes exclusive wheels and exterior appearance changes.Kia


The Scorpion Special Edition will be limited to just 250 units per month and will only be available to customers in the United States. Kia says the package is expected to sell out quickly, and notes that it will be available for the Stinger GT2 RWD and AWD. The package will be offered in Snow White Pearl, Aurora Black, and Ceramic Silver paint colors.

The 2022 Stinger got several other meaningful updates to keep it fresh. They include a new LED exterior lighting scheme, geometric alloy wheels, and a sportier quad exhaust system. Kia also added a new GT-Line trim, which gets a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that make 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The GT trim that can be equipped with the Scorpion package gets a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 that get a bump in power to 368 ponies and 375 pound-feet of torque. Power hits the rear or all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.


Kia Stinger GT2 with Scorpion Package The Stinger GT2 is available with RWD or AWD.Kia


The Stinger can match its bark with some real bite, but it also happens to be a spacious, comfortable sedan with plenty to like inside. The car gets a standard 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a multi-device Bluetooth system, wireless charging, and more. The Scorpion Edition adds carbon fiber pattern trim pieces throughout the cabin.

The 2022 Kia Stinger is on sale now. The base GT-Line trim starts at $37,135, which includes a $1,045 destination charge. The Stinger GT1 starts at $44,735 and the GT2 trim starts at $52,335. Adding the Scorpion Package to the GT2 model bumps the price by $1,295.


Kia Stinger GT2 with Scorpion Package The Stinger got a new exhaust for 2022.Kia

Trending News