The Open Road Automotive Law Blog

News and analysis of legal issues affecting the Automotive Industry

The Open Road features legal thought leaders from all areas of the transportation economy including corporate transactions, products liability and class actions, insurance regulation, environmental compliance, and supply chain management. As the automotive sector faces new challenges from international actors, technological innovations, and emerging business models, The Open Road will help insiders navigate the legal and regulatory issues facing the new automotive industry landscape.

On April 30, 2021, SAE International updated its “Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles,” labeled SAE J3016_202104. This updated version cancels and supersedes the June 2018 version, labeled SAE J3016_201806. Its basic framework remains intact with six levels of driving automation, ranging from no driving automation (Level 0) to full driving automation (Level 5).…
As first reported by Reuters on April 22, Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) had recently released drafts of an amendment that would allow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to exempt 15,000 self-driving vehicles per manufacturer from safety standards that were written for human drivers. Within three years, that figure would rise to 80,000, and after four years, manufacturers could ask NHTSA to increase exemptions beyond 80,000 vehicles. At this time,…
The recent Tesla fire in Houston reportedly took four-plus hours to extinguish completely because of continued flareups. This highlights some of the challenges faced by auto manufacturers (and fire departments) as electric vehicles start to take over the roads, including unique issues related to lithium-ion fires.  Dykema attorneys Deron Wade, Jeff Cox and Rebekah Hudgins recently presented a litigation update addressing: “How Going All Electric May Impact the Future of Fire Litigation” (PowerPoint Slides –…
In December 2020, NHTSA posted a significant Notice of Interpretation with important ramifications for manufacturers of autonomous vehicles. The Notice Regarding the Applicability of NHTSA FMVSS Test Procedures to Certifying Manufacturers updates the Agency’s position taken in a 2016 letter to Google on the relationship between FMVSS and AVs with novel designs lacking traditional controls, e.g. a steering wheel, brake pedal, etc. Traditionally, under NHTSAs self-certification process, manufacturers were not required to test a vehicle’s…
As ADAS technologies proliferate in a largely unregulated environment, human factors scientists are studying consumer adoption to a wide array of manufacturers’ offerings. Recently, in collaboration with human factors scientists from Exponent, Dykema Member Michael Carey examined the current state of ADAS availability in new vehicles with discussion of various regulatory and litigation considerations. Click here to read the article “Safety and Regulatory Considerations of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS),” published in the ABA Tort Trial…
On November 19, 2020, NHTSA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”) asking interested parties and the public to provide the agency with information intended to help NHTSA devise a “Framework for Automated Driving Safety” that will allow the agency to implement safety standards for the operation and performance of automated driving systems. Comments are due 60 days after the ANPRM is published in the Federal Register. NHTSA last addressed AV in March, when…
Despite the Cataclysm of COVID-19 Shutdowns, Automotive Operations Had Successful Reopenings The abrupt shutdown of U.S. automotive industry in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and continued stay-at-home orders through April led to fears that the pandemic would prevent resumption of industry operations for the foreseeable future. A survey of automotive industry executives conducted last month by Dykema, MICHAuto and The Right Place confirmed that 84% of the automotive company respondents were required to shut…
The automotive industry is a critical component of the U.S. economy connecting a wide range of industries, from part and raw material suppliers to providers needed for the day-to-day sale and operation of vehicles. In July 2020, Dykema, MICHauto and The Right Place canvassed automotive executives, professionals and service providers to gauge their perspectives on the U.S. economy and the automotive industry and, particularly, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click on the links below…
Partnering with MICHauto and The Right Place, Dykema developed a five-minute flash survey to evaluate the current state of the automotive industry. Please click here to participate in the survey. The results will be analyzed to provide insight regarding the impact COVID-19 has had on businesses in the automotive industry. Dykema will also share feedback received regarding how operations could change moving forward. Your response to this short survey is anonymous. Click here to share…
What Do You Do When Your Contract Does Not Contain A Force Majeure Clause? As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread rapidly throughout the United States—and the world—commercial relationships are being thrown into disarray, resulting in the disruption of supply chains, cancellations of events, and closures of restaurants and other businesses. Several states have declared a state of emergency (including banning large group gatherings and mandating that certain business shutter for the time being).…