WASHINGTON -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is launching an investigation into about 1 million newer Ram pickups and Dodge SUVs after receiving complaints the vehicles rolled away after being parked.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles today said it is cooperating with the government investigation that covers 2013-16 Ram 1500 pickups and 2014-16 Dodge Durango SUVs. The government said it has reports of 25 crashes from owners alleging vehicles roll away and nine injuries and urged drivers to set the parking brake before exiting the vehicles.
The vehicles under investigation have an electronic rotary control for driver gear selections that is different to the shifter that FCA recalled earlier this year for rollaway issues.
In April, Fiat Chrysler recalled more than 1.1 million cars and SUVs worldwide because the vehicles may roll away after drivers exit.
The problem in the recalled Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs has been tied to at least 68 injuries, 266 crashes and 308 reports of property damage, the government said.
In June, "Star Trek" actor Anton Yelchin was killed in a rollaway crash in a recalled 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Yelchin, 27, died after his SUV rolled backward in the steep driveway of his Los Angeles home and pinned him against a brick wall and a fence. In August, his parents sued FCA for negligence and product liability claims in California.
U.S. regulators have investigated a number of roll-away issues in recent years.
Also today, NHTSA opened an investigation into 39,000 2012-2014 Land Rover Evoque and 2013 Jaguar XF vehicles after seven complaints of vehicles rolling away and four injuries were reported. Like the Fiat Chrysler vehicles under investigation, they have rotary transmission switches to control driver gear selections.
A spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover said the company is cooperating with the investigation.
Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at the Autotrader.com online vehicle marketplace, said the move away from traditional gear shifts by a rising number of automakers has left many consumers confused in the driver's seat.
"We need to educate consumers as to how it works, and, if you're going to reinvent something that people are very familiar with, you'd better make sure it works perfectly," Krebs said.
In 2012, Honda Motor Co. recalled 871,000 vehicles that could roll away after the ignition key has been removed. The Japanese automaker said a part in the ignition interlock could become damaged or worn, enabling the key to be removed even if the vehicle's transmission lever has not been shifted into park.