"The shut-off feature is extremely important because we're human and when the way we turn on and off our vehicles has changed so dramatically, new safety features are necessary" said Janette Fennell, founder of KidsAndCars.org, a national child safety organization. If a vehicle is left running for a predetermined amount of time, the engine will automatically shut off.
Toyota did not say what exactly are the models will first get the new features, nor did it say whether they will be offered as standard or at an extra cost.
Indications are that beginning with model year 2020, Toyota will include automatic engine shut off and auto-park features in its new vehicles.
Toyota will also add features to some vehicles that will automatically shift it into park when the vehicle is turned off. In Toyotas with an electronic shifter and/or an electronic parking brake, the auto will automatically put itself into park and/or apply the parking brake if it detects the driver has exited the vehicle without putting it into park.
The first one, called Automatic Engine Shut Off, will automatically shut off the engine after a pre-determined period of time in the event the vehicle is left running. This feature has been offered in the U.S. market since the early 2000s and is now very common on new cars. This one requires a vehicle that relies on electronic means to set both the transmission and the parking brake, but Toyota didn't say which models would get it. The reason has been identified as "keyless" proximity fobs and push-button start, where owners, perhaps older drivers more accustomed to a keyed ignition, overlooked the fact they didn't turn off the engine, which flooded their homes with exhaust fumes.
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