South Korea Orders Vehicle Recalls For Hyundai, Kia After Whistleblower Report

Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp on Friday said they would recall 240,000 vehicles from South Korea after the transport ministry issued its first compulsory recall order over safety defects first flagged by a whistleblower.

The ministry also asked the prosecutor to investigate whether or not the automakers allegedly covered up the five flaws, which affect 12 models, including the Elantra, Sonata, Santa Fe and Genesis.

This is the first time ever that the ministry ordered a compulsory recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles, and comes after the automakers had rejected an earlier order for a voluntary recall, saying the defects did not compromise driving safety.

On Friday, Hyundai and Kia said they “accept the administrative order,” adding: “There have been no reported injuries or accidents from the cited issues.”

“Safety is always Hyundai/Kia’s number one priority and we make decisions on recalls or any other customer protection steps in compliance with regulators around the world and stringent internal procedures,” they said in a statement.

The planned recalls will add to the 1.5 million vehicles that Hyundai and Kia last month offered to fix in South Korea and the United States over possible engine stalling – a defect which was also flagged by 26-year-old Hyundai engineer Kim Gwang-ho who last year had reported a total of 32 defects to the vehicle safety regulator.

The transport ministry later asked the automakers to recall the vehicles over eight of the 32 problems, while offering free repairs on nine cases.

Shares of Hyundai Motor fell 1.3 percent and Kia Motors declined nearly 1 percent in the wider market .KS11 that was down 0.4 percent as of 0223 GMT.