In early November 2021, the U.S. auto safety regulator announced that they would be rewarding $24 million to a former Hyundai Motor Company employee who brought to light safety concerns at the carmaking plant. This award from the U.S. auto safety regulator marks the first of its kind, and it has become the largest award offered to a whistleblower across the global auto industry. Here’s what you should know about what the whistleblower uncovered and what this event means for Hyundai consumers.
The Origins of the Complaint
In 2016, Kim Gwang-ho, an engineer for Hyundai Motor Company, told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the automaker neglected to address a design flaw related to Theta II engines. He reported that these engines were known to seize up and catch fire in some cases, yet he believed the company was not acting quickly enough to investigate or address these engine issues.
The Investigation into Hyundai Motor Company
Once the NHTSA received the whistleblower’s complaint, U.S. safety regulators investigated the concerns and determined that Hyundai and Kia had delayed taking timely action to recall affected vehicles. Additionally, the automaker had provided misleading and inaccurate information about these problems, further complicating the recall process. As a result, Hyundai and Kia’s U.S. entities agreed to pay a $210 million civil penalty. The $24 million award to the whistleblower is the first to occur since Congress passed the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act in 2015.
What’s Next For U.S. Consumers
It’s important for consumers to recognize that programs and legislation have been put in place to protect their interests. However, it may take time for some automakers to announce a safety recall, which can leave consumers vulnerable to crashes or injuries. As soon as you receive a recall notice, schedule an appointment with your local dealer to receive the replacement part installed as quickly as possible. If you encounter any issues or difficulties with obtaining the recall repair you need, reach out to a knowledgeable lemon law attorney to discuss your options.
Talk to a dedicated Berkeley lemon law attorney by calling Lemon Law Partners, LLP, today at (510) 944-0336 to arrange a free case evaluation.