NHTSA Says FCA Shifters Have Resulted in 68 Injuries, 266 Crashes
Automaker Planning on Speeding Up Recall Fix
Last week’s death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin by a rollaway Jeep Grand Cherokee, in which the confusing shifter was believed to be responsible for the accident, has increased scrutiny from government regulators and hastened Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) response to the recall campaign, Reuters reports. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials reported 68 injuries and 266 crashes in relation to the shifter issue. Officially, no deaths have been reported related to the issue. However, NHTSA acknowledged Yelchin’s death, saying the incident “may have been related to the alleged defect.”
FCA issued a worldwide recall for 1.1 million vehicles, of which 811,000 are in the U.S. The recall fix involves additional warning chimes and an interlock system that will automatically put the vehicle in Park if the vehicle is in gear and the driver door is open. FCA says it will speed up the recall of the affected vehicles and would start the recall process this week. Initially, FCA said it would start the recall campaign in the fourth quarter of 2016.
The affected vehicles include the 2015 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2012-2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 with the 3.6L V-6 engine. The shifter design was changed in the 2016 Grand Cherokee to a more traditional shifter with distinct detents for the different modes. The Dodge Durango, although related to the Grand Cherokee, adopted a dial-type shifter for the 2014 model year, which is not included in the recall.