BMW 7-Series automobiles, model years 2002-2008 (the “Vehicles”) have push-buttons (“Start/Stop” button) to control starting and stopping the engine, and “Shift-by-Wire” gearshift systems controlled by a lever behind the steering wheel. Shift-by-Wire gearshift systems replace the traditional mechanical connection (e.g., cable or linkage) between the gearshift and automatic transmission with n electronic connection controlled by a computer module. The computer module is also referred to by BMW as a “serial bus system.”
As alleged in the complaint, the Shift-by-Wire system is a component of the overall electronically controlled transmission system of the Vehicles. The Vehicles’ electronically controlled automatic transmission system is designed to automatically shift the Vehicle into Park under a variety of conditions, including after the driver has pressed the “Start/Stop” button to turn the engine off, and when the “Park” button on the gearshift lever has been engaged.
Additionally, a subset of these Vehicles was equipped with a “Comfort Access System,” (“CAS”), which allows a driver to start the Vehicle without inserting the key device into the ignition; instead the CAS remotely senses the presence of the key device and enables the “Start/Stop” button. The key device can then be inserted into the ignition, or not, at the driver’s option.
Many consumers have reported problems with the Vehicles’ electronically controlled transmission system. For example, after pressing the “Start/Stop” button to turn the engine off, the Vehicle appears to be in Park but, in fact, remains in Neutral and, in some instances, shifts into Reverse and the Vehicle starts to roll away after the driver has exited believing that the Vehicle is in Park.
There are approximately 122,000 BMW 7-Series model year 2002-2008 automobiles equipped with “Start/Stop” buttons and “Shift-by-Wire” gearshift systems which are at risk for the rollaway problem because of BMW’s defective electronically controlled transmission system. An estimated subset of 45,000 of these Vehicles were equipped with CAS. The issue is so significant that the Office of Defect Investigations (“ODI”) of the National Highway Transportation Administration (“NHTSA”) opened a Preliminary Evaluation in August 2011 (NHTSA Action Number PE 11-025), which was recently upgraded to an Engineering Analysis in April 2012 (NHTSA Action Number EA12-002), to further study the problem. According to the NHTSA issued investigation summary (the “NHTSA Report”), the agency has reviewed more than 50 complaints about the problem, including reports of at least sixteen crashes, with at least five crashes resulting in injuries.
CLASS: All persons or entities who purchased or leased new or used model year 2002-2008 BMW 7-Series vehicles (“the Vehicles”) between the period 2001 through the present that are equipped with push-button ignition and electronically controlled transmission system with a “Shift-by-Wire” gearshift system.