World’s biggest car-makers sued over “deadly” ignition design flaw

Car-makers including BMW, Honda, Ford and Nissan are being sued over claims that “deadly” carbon monoxide is emitted when drivers leave their vehicles running after taking their electronic key fobs with them, under the mistaken belief that the engines will shut off.

Car emissions exhaust

Ten of the world’s biggest car-makers and their design studios are being sued in the US for a design flaw in keyless ignitions which has led to 13 deaths.

A complaint has been filed in the US district court in California against companies including BMW, Nissan, Fiat Chrysler and Ford.

The complaint alleges that carbon monoxide is emitted when drivers leave their vehicles running after taking their electronic key fobs with them, under the mistaken belief that the engines will shut off.

13 documented deaths

It reads: “This Complaint seeks redress for a deadly defect associated with the remote-control electronic keyless fob system implemented by ten different auto manufacturing groups and their associated research and design companies.”

In the proposed class action, 28 named plaintiffs suggest that the keyless ignition flaw could lead to carbon monoxide filling enclosed garages next to homes – with “deadly” effects.

The plaintiffs say that there have been at least 13 documented deaths because of this.

“Basic safety mechanism” would cut off engine

They accuse the car-makers of failing to include a “basic safety mechanism” which would cut of the car’s engine if it was left unattended.

The complaint reads: “Affected vehicles that necessarily lack such an Auto-Off system are also necessarily dangerous and defective.”

The full list of car companies being sued in the case is:

  • Toyota Group, including its design studio Calty Design Research;
  • Ford Group, including its Global Advanced Design Studio;
  • Nissan Group, including its Nissan Design America studio;
  • Honda Group, including its Honda R&D Americas studio;
  • FCA Group;
  • GM Group, including its General Motors Design Studio;
  • BMW Group, including its Designworks USA studio;
  • VW Group, including its Volkswagen Audi Design Center;
  • MB Group, including its Mercedez-Benz Research and Development North America studio; and
  • Hyundai/Kia Group, including its Hyundai America Technical Center.

The plaintiffs are seeking a trial by jury with claims of negligent failure to recall and unjust enrichment.

According to Reuters, Ford says it takes customer safety “very seriously” and says its keyless ignition system has proven “safe and reliable”. None of the other car-makers had commented.

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