According to Reuters, the filing in a Los Angeles district court revolves around keyless ignition systems, and claims that they are unsafe, that these car companies knew they were a hazard but refused to publicly admit this, and that these systems have led to at least 13 deaths.
With a keyless ignition system, drivers can start and stop their car's engine via a button on the dashboard, so long as they have the car's key fob in their pocket or on their person. This contrasts with traditional method of starting and stopping car, which requires having a key in the ignition barrel and turning it.
It's claimed that the 10 automakers knew about and concealed the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The plaintiffs say that this poisoning occurs when they exit, with their key fobs, a car that's still running.
Instead of the car shutting its engine off automatically, the motor keeps on idling, causing the garage and or other small enclosed space to fill up with poisonous carbon monoxide gas, which can lead to death.
Defendants cited in the suit are BMW, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen. Brands also listed, but which fall under their corporate parents, include Acura, Bentley, Kia, Lexus, Mini and Infiniti.
It's unknown what amount of compensation the plaintiffs are looking for in this case, but they are also seeking an injunction to force car makers in the USA to install an engine shutdown device in cars fitted with keyless start. This instrument would automatically turn off the engine if the car is unattended or if the key fob is away from the vehicle for an extended period of time.
The suit claims that both GM and Ford have looked into patenting just such a device in the past.