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Toyota has revealed that it will begin introducing two key safety features for its 2020 models. The first system shuts off the engine if it’s left idling for too long, while the other automatically engages park mode when the driver exits the vehicle without shifting it into park (thus preventing the car from rolling away).
According to Automotive News, Toyota will upgrade its current system, which issues a two-step alert to request the driver to turn off a long-idling engine, to one that automatically shuts off the engine at a predetermined interval with enhanced audible and visual warnings on its Smart Key system, depending on equipment. An additional warning delivered via the smartphone app will be introduced as well.
The announcement follows days after the automaker was criticised by Safety Research & Strategies for the number of carbon monoxide-related deaths attributable to the keyless ignition system in Toyota’s vehicles.
According to the vehicle and product safety company, at least 37 known deaths in the US have been linked to keyless ignition-related carbon monoxide poisoning. Founder Sean Kane said the numbers cited likely don’t include all such deaths.
Following Toyota’s announcement, Kane told Automotive News that it “is a positive announcement, and we’re glad to see it happen. But with that being said, they’re late to the game and there ar eno plans in that announcement to fix the vehicles that are already on the road.”
In response to that statement, a Toyota spokesman said: “The safety and security of our customers are top priorities, and we sympathise with anyone in an accident involving one of our vehicles. We are pleased to see the positive response to this proactive approach. We will continue to comply with all applicable standards now and in the future.”
The second safety system, which Toyota calls Automatic Park, will either shift the vehicle into park or apply the electronic emergency brake if the driver exits the car without shifting the automatic transmission in park.
A Toyota spokesperson said the feature is activated when the driver’s side door is opened and the driver’s seat belt is unbuckled and the brake is disengaged. Toyota did not say how long it planned to take to phase in the safety features across its line-up, and it’s unclear if the move will scale over globally.