Toyota Readies Automated Features for Forgetful Motorists

Toyota Motor Corp. has developed two new technologies to help motorists who forget to put their vehicle in park and turn the ignition off when they’re done driving.

An automatic park system shifts the transmission into “Park” and/or applies the parking brake if the driver leaves the vehicle without doing so. The feature will be available only in vehicles with an electronic means of shifting or applying the parking brake.

The other technology is an automatic engine shutoff system to help prevent motorists from inadvertently leaving the car running after it is parked. The feature will turn the engine off after a pre-determined idling period. A smartphone app also is in the works to serve as an added reminder.

Current Toyota vehicles issue audible and visual warnings to remind drivers to put a vehicle in park before exiting. And a two-step process is used today to alert a driver that the engine is running, then requests the engine to be turned off.

The new technologies will be available later this year in select 2020-model vehicles sold in the U.S. market. It isn’t clear whether they will be standard or extra-cost options.