Kia, Hyundai to host security upgrade events in Twin Cities to combat thefts

Amid a wave in vehicle thefts targeting Kia and Hyundai vehicles, the two companies are hosting events in the Twin Cities to provide free security upgrades aimed at stopping thieves.

Kia is setting up a mobile service center at Canterbury Park this weekend and working with Minneapolis-area law enforcement to provide software upgrades to eligible vehicles.

Officials say the event will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday, allowing Kia owners to stop in and get their vehicle’s anti-theft software upgraded.

A spokesperson for Kia says the upgrades typically take around 30 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but Kia owners are urged to check online ahead of time to ensure their vehicle is eligible for the upgrade.

Hyundai is also working with Minneapolis police to provide free security upgrades on Friday and Saturday.

Hyundai’s event is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the old Kmart parking lot, located at 10 W Lake St. No appointment is necessary.

Like Kia’s event, not all Hyundai vehicles are yet eligible for the upgrade, but the company says drivers of ineligible vehicles will still get a free steering wheel lock. A list of eligible models can be found here.

Facing growing scrutiny from drivers and state officials, the companies started rolling out software upgrades — which extend the car alarm sound from 30 seconds to a minute and require a key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicles on — earlier this year but it has been a slow process. As of the start of August, only about 17.5% of Hyundais had gotten the upgrade.

The wave of thefts also led auto insurers to take notice, with some major companies refusing to write comprehensive coverage policies for vulnerable models and others reporting significantly higher premiums.

RELATED: AG Ellison, Twin Cities mayors urge Kia, Hyundai to issue recall amid thefts

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was among the local officials who called for the companies to issue a formal recall of their vehicles to fix the issue, and he then announced his office is investigating the companies, saying their conduct was “clearly negligent.” However, his office hasn’t yet announced any formal state action against the companies.