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Major car companies sued over keyless entry systems

Key defence: A lawsuit in the United States against 10 of the world’s leading car makers alleges they are complicit in the deaths of at least 13 people.

Class action lawsuit alleges 10 brands knew dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning

28 Aug 2015

TENS of millions of vehicles could be caught up in a lawsuit filed in a California court this week, which alleges that ten of the world’s leading car-makers have failed to fit safeguards to keyless ignition systems.

The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles Federal Court, on behalf of owners of keyless ignition-equipped cars, and attributes 13 deaths via carbon monoxide poisoning to the vehicle system.

It alleges that, in the instance where the driver alights from the car without pushing the ‘engine on/off’ or equivalent button and the engine of the car is left running, a suitable warning system to alert the driver does not exist, thereby exposing the driver to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The lawsuit, filed under the names of 28 plaintiffs, lists Bentley, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volkswagen, and alleges that the companies sold key fobs “without instituting adequate safeguards, warnings, or other safety features”.

The lawsuit goes on to claim that “automakers have known about the deadly consequences that can result when a driver exits a vehicle with our without the keyless fob and without having depressed the Start/Stop button. Nevertheless, even though an Auto-Off feature can be implemented without significant effort or cost, the Automakers have refused to act.”

All of the companies named in the American lawsuit sell various models in Australia with a keyless entry feature. However, keyless entry systems – and their functionality – not only vary from brand to brand and year to year, but from model to model.

Australian Design Rule 25 addresses the issue of securing vehicles via steering, ignition or transmission locks in order to start a car, but make no mention of requirements when turning the vehicle off. Remote starting – where a person is outside the car and wishes to start a car – is not approved under ADRs.

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