U.S. investigates one million Fiat Chrysler vehicles for roll-away crashes

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[December 20, 2016]  By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is launching an investigation into about 1 million newer Fiat Chrysler Ram pickup trucks and SUVs after receiving complaints the vehicles rolled away after being parked, it said on Tuesday.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV <0QXR.L> said it is cooperating with the government investigation that covers the 2013-2016 model year Ram 1500 pickup truck and 2014-2016 Dodge Durango SUV. The government said it has reports of 25 crashes from owners alleging vehicle roll-away and nine injuries and urged drivers to set the parking brake before exiting the vehicles.

The vehicles under investigation have an electronic rotary control for driver gear selections that is different to the shifter that Fiat Chrysler recalled earlier this year for roll away issues.

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Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram signage is displayed outside Bill Snethkamp dealership in Detroit, Michigan January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

In April, Fiat Chrysler recalled more than 1.1 million cars and SUVs worldwide because the vehicles may roll away after drivers exit.

The problem in the recalled Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs has been tied to at least 68 injuries, 266 crashes and 308 reports of property damage, the government said.

In June, Russian-born "Star Trek" actor Anton Yelchin was killed in a roll-away crash in a recalled 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Yelchin, 27, died after his SUV rolled backward in the steep driveway of his Los Angeles home and pinned him against a brick wall and a fence. In August, his parents sued Fiat Chrysler for negligence and product liability claims in California.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, editing by Louise Heavens)

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