If it seems like déjà vu, it’s not just you: SUVs are again leading the charge on new vehicle sales.  Buoyed by low gas prices and growing millennial families, SUV sales have increased by 6 percent from 2016 to 2017 (through October)—even though the overall car market has declined by 2 percent during the same timeframe. View Full Post
FAST Act Recall Pilot Program Gets Underway in Maryland One of the more bedeviling problems for the automotive industry (and for manufacturers in general) is how to alert consumers to pending recalls, and getting consumers to comply with those recalls.  According to NHTSA, only 70% of recalled vehicles are repaired, even though such recalls are frequently safety-sensitive and repairs are free to consumers. View Full Post
California Department of Motor Vehicles Gives Green Light to Autonomous Testing While developers of autonomous vehicles have not always had welcome news from the California DMV, they recently received some helpful clarity on the regulations applicable to autonomous vehicle testing on California public roads. The DMV’s revised proposed regulations permit companies to, among other things, test vehicles without having a driver in the car, a change from past proposed rules.  View Full Post
Federal Government Does About-Face on Enforcement of Arbitration Agreements in Employment Contracts One of the changes in approach that the current administration has taken to the legal system—a change often overshadowed by other headlines—is the current administration’s willingness to enforce arbitration clauses. While this has garnered some attention in connection with the Trump administration’s position on arbitration provisions in nursing home agreements, the administration has quietly shifted its course on enforcing arbitration agreements in other realms as well. View Full Post
State Attorneys General Warn the EPA of Legal Action Should Obama-Era Fuel Economy Standards Get Rolled Back Even as the Trump administration is calling into question whether it will remain committed to Obama-era fuel economy and emissions targets, state governments are stepping up to enforce those same targets. When President Trump announced his intent to loosen fuel economy regulations, the California Air Resources Board voted to stick with the tougher standards—and, under a longstanding waiver, California may be permitted to enforce those standards, even if federal regulations are less stringent.  View Full Post
Class Action Reform and the “Fairness in Class Action Act” While the Congressional legislative agenda has taken a back seat in the headlines lately, the fact remains that there still is an agenda, and it includes class action reform. The agenda item of interest is H.R. 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017 (the “Fairness in Class Action Act”) which would also lead to multi-district litigation (MDL) reform. View Full Post
Volkswagen Announces Major Steps Toward Electrifying Its Vehicle Fleet While fans of electrifying rides got a boost from the box office this week, fans of electrified rides are living in exciting times as well. Volkswagen has delivered two major pieces of news in this space.  First, it announced that after dipping its toes in the waters of the electric vehicle market with its current e-Golf, it will be jumping in headlong, releasing four new affordable electric vehicle models in coming years, including a crossover, a midsize SUV, a hatchback, and a sedan.  View Full Post
President Trump Orders EPA Review of Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards One of the more aggressive steps taken by the Obama administration to reduce carbon emissions was to have the EPA set an ambitious target for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards: 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.  In a release in the closing days of the administration, the EPA reaffirmed its commitment to this standard, citing the benefits of improved fuel economy versus the ability of automakers to hit these targets with manageable increases in vehicle costs. View Full Post