September 9, 2022 – In 2006, NHTSA revised the definition of the key from solely a physical object to include the electronic code used as the vehicle’s unique identifier in these new keyless systems.
This change created a loophole that automakers were able to exploit to technically comply with the standard, even as it created a fleet of keyless ignition vehicles that allow drivers to turn off the engine without putting the transmission in Park, and exit with the key fob, leaving the vehicle free to roll.
The MY 2018 Pacifica Hybrid became the first FCA keyless ignition vehicle to have an automatic engine idle shutdown. But the feature did not spread to other carlines. The FCA story shows why, absent regulation, safety features are an inconsistent patchwork from manufacturer to manufacturer and even within a single manufacturer.