Leading law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has already lodged a class action against Hyundai with the Supreme Court of Victoria, and is preparing a similar case against fellow Korean car giant Kia.
The proposed Kia class action involves almost 58,000 Sportage and Stinger model vehicles manufactured between 2016 and 2019.
The Hyundai class action involves almost 94,000 Tucson model cars with model years between 2014 and 2020, 124 Genesis G80 and G70 2018 models, 1200 Genesis models from 2014-2017, 21,943 Sante Fe (DM) models from 2015-2018 and ix35 models from 2014-2015, and a further 19,541 ix35 (EL) models from 2014-2015.
Lead plaintiff in the Hyundai class action, Port Macquarie mother-of-two Anne-Maree Johnston, said she was lucky to escape unharmed after her Hyundai caught fire in her garage directly below her bedroom.
“It could have been a fatal disaster. We were very lucky to have noticed smoke coming into the house from the garage. Had we not caught it early, it’s almost certain the whole house would have gone up,” Ms Johnston said.
Leading consumer advocate Jo Ucukalo, the Chief Executive Officer of Handle My Complaint, said she had been contacted by car owners from across the country concerned that neither Kia nor Hyundai was taking their complaints seriously.
Ms Ucukalo said Handle My Complaint had been working closely with consumers, lobbying the manufacturers on their behalf, as well as raising awareness of the issues with government regulators.
“For many people, their cars are a major investment and asset. Motorists would expect cars made by Hyundai and Kia to meet the most stringent safety standards. But they have been let down and now own potential worthless and dangerous vehicles,” Ms Ucukalo said.
Maurice Blackburn’s National Head of Class Actions, Andrew Watson, said that the class actions will allege that Hyundai and Kia failed to comply with the guarantee of acceptable quality under the Australian Consumer Law, and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.
“This is a serious defect impacting hundreds of thousands of vehicles with potentially catastrophic consequences for vehicle owners and bystanders. Consumers expect that the vehicles they purchase will be safe to drive, safe to park in their garage, and free from defects which could result in the loss of life. Hyundai and Kia have failed to meet those expectations and must be held to account for putting unsafe vehicles on the road,” Mr Watson said.
The ABS defect was identified in multiple safety recall notices issued by Hyundai and Kia which stated that due to a manufacturing error, an electronic control circuit board may short circuit when exposed to moisture.
This gives rise to a risk of an engine compartment fire, even when the vehicle is turned off. A vehicle fire may cause injury or death to vehicle occupants and bystanders, as well as property damage to homes or other nearby flammable structures and buildings.
Vehicle owners must park their vehicles outside in an open space and away from houses, other buildings or materials which may be flammable, such as a garage or carport, to avoid the risk of a potential vehicle fire causing further damage or injury to occupants.
The class actions propose to seek compensation on behalf of group members with affected vehicles who suffered loss and damage as a result of the alleged breaches of consumer laws.
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