Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has recently come under fire amid allegations that the automaker concealed a defect in at least 3 of their vehicle models. A class-action lawsuit, filed in June of 2016, alleges that the auto company failed to address a known defect in a monostable transmission shifter which has been linked to driverless rollaway accidents. Unlike a traditional gear selector, the monostable shifter may not always provide a clear indication of the selected gear, leading drivers to mistakenly believe their vehicle is in park. Although still under investigation, a jeep vehicle containing the monostable shifter may have played a role in the death of “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin.
The models named in the lawsuit include:
- Dodge Charger (2012-2014)
- Jeep Grand Cherokee (2014-2015)
- Chrysler 300 (2012-2014)
The lawsuit also accused the company of concealing the extent of damages resulting from accidents due to the defective part. More than 800,000 vehicles may be affected by the defect and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified at least 212 crashes and 41 injuries linked to the named vehicles. Plaintiffs are also seeking damages for the diminished value of their vehicles which has been caused by the negative publicity surrounding the defect.
On April 12 of 2016, the FCA announced a voluntary recall of the affected vehicles. The FCA has also recalled more than 13,000 Maserati automobiles in the United States to address similar issues. Although no injuries have been reported, Maserati vehicles contain a comparable monostable gear shifter which is subject to a similar design flaw. The company has also announced software upgrades for vehicles recalled for rollaway risks.
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