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Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.1 mn autos

The vehicles affected include 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, 2012-14 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans

Fiat Chrysler

Bill Vlasic  |  Detroit 

Fiat Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler said on Friday that it was recalling 1.1 million vehicles that can roll away unexpectedly and cause injuries when the transmission is not used properly, adding to a spate of recent safety actions by carmakers.

Safety recalls in the United States have continued to mount this year as automakers react to tougher enforcement efforts by regulators. This year's total is unlikely to match the record of more than 60 million vehicles set in 2014 after General Motors recalled millions of small cars with faulty ignitions that were ultimately linked to 124 deaths. But over all, the pace of recalls so far in 2016 exceeds the number in a typical year before the GM crisis.

GM and other automakers, including Fiat Chrysler, have been subject to heavy fines by regulators for failing to promptly fix defective vehicles. In addition, automakers are being scrutinised by other government agencies, including the Justice Department, for their conduct related to recalls and safety defects.

In recent weeks, GM announced a major recall to fix seatbelts in its trucks, and other companies have announced safety actions to repair faulty airbags.

The recall blitz has even included the electric carmaker Tesla Motors, which said last week that it would recall its new Model X sport utility vehicle to prevent third-row seats from folding forward in a collision. On Friday, Fiat Chrysler said it would recall 811,586 cars and SUVs in the United States after reports of 41 injuries linked to transmission problems. The automaker also will recall more than 300,000 vehicles for similar problems in various international markets, including Canada and Mexico.

The vehicles affected include 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and 2012-14 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans.

An investigation by the carmaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that drivers were leaving their vehicles without shifting the transmission into the "park" position when the engine was running.

According to Fiat Chrysler, the drivers were unaware of how to properly use electronically controlled shift levers.

Unlike conventional transmissions, the levers do not change position when shifted.

Instead, the levers return to the same position after shifting, and gear selection is indicated by lights.

"Unless due care is taken, drivers may draw erroneous conclusions about the status of their vehicles," Fiat Chrysler said.

According to documents from the auto safety regulator, more than 300 incidents were reported in which vehicles rolled away after improper shifting, resulting in more than 100 accidents. Among the injuries were a fractured pelvis, broken ribs, cuts, sprains and severe bruising.

Regulators also found that shifters in the affected vehicles were unreasonably difficult to operate. "The shifter is not intuitive and provides poor tactile and visual feedback to the driver, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection," regulators said.

Fiat Chrysler said it would enhance the warning systems and otherwise modify the transmission systems in the recalled models. The company said it had already updated the shifters in newer versions of the vehicles.

©2016 The New York Times News Service

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First Published: Mon, April 25 2016. 00:16 IST