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Hyundai, Kia earmark $760 million to settle U.S. lawsuits over engine fires

SEOUL (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Co 005380.KS and affiliate Kia Motors Corp 000270.KS have earmarked a total of 900 billion won ($757.86 million) to settle U.S. class action litigation and address engine-related issues in the United States and South Korea.

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Hyundai Motor will reflect about 600 billion won in costs related to engine problems in July to September earnings, while affiliate Kia Motors has set aside about 300 billion won, they said on Friday.

The latest settlement provides installation of a software update to boost safety and performance, as well as cash compensation options, lifetime warranties, free inspection and repair of the covered engines, the automakers said in a statement.

A total of 4.17 million Hyundai and Kia models equipped with Theta II gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines will be affected by the U.S. settlement.

Hyundai and Kia, together the world’s fifth-biggest automaker by sales, recalled nearly 1.7 million vehicles in the United States to address the possibility of engine fires.

The U.S. safety regulator is investigating whether the recalls covered enough vehicles and were conducted in a timely manner.

The investigation comes after Kim Gwang-ho, then an engineer at Hyundai, flew to Washington in 2016 to tell the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the companies should have recalled more vehicles over the problem, citing an internal report.

In November, Reuters reported that U.S. federal prosecutors had launched a criminal investigation into the pair to determine if the recalls had been conducted properly.

Hyundai and Kia said they expected the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to review the proposed settlement for preliminary approval before the end of October.

($1 = 1,187.5500 won)

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Additional reporting by Ju-min Park, Editing by Christopher Cushing, Robert Birsel