10 automakers sued over keyless ignitions

Keyless ignition has rapidly proliferated throughout the auto industry to become a fairly normal feature on new cars. It's supposed to offer the convenience of keeping the fob in your pocket and just pressing a button to drive away. However, ten major automakers are now being sued in US District Court over claims that the system is dangerous, Reuters reports. The suit alleges that people are forgetting to shut off the engine, and the lack of an idle timer is the cause for 13 deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning and multiple injuries.

The suit currently includes 28 plaintiffs, according to Reuters, but the lawyers are asking for class-action status to potentially add many more. The case goes after a major swath of the industry, including BMW, Daimler, FCA, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen, plus their related brands like Acura, Infiniti, Mini, and Lexus. In all, over five million vehicles are affected.

The assertion here is that people walk away from their vehicle without shutting it off because they believe the engine shuts off automatically. If parked in a garage, carbon monoxide can build up, leading to poisoning. The lawyers claim automakers know this is a problem and also cite 27 complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the issue, according to Reuters. The plaintiffs are asking for an automatic shut-off and damages from the companies.

These concerns have come up before, though. Toyota previously faced a lawsuit over a carbon monoxide death after a woman accidentally left her Lexus running. Also earlier this year, GM recalled 64,186 examples of the 2011-2013 Chevrolet Volt because owners weren't shutting them off. The problem resulted in two injuries, and the company released a software update to limit the idling time.

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