Are autonomous vehicles safe? Are they safer than vehicles driven by people? Is one type of autonomous vehicle safer than another? Last week NHTSA released the data it gathered over the last year pursuant to last summer’s Standing General Order requiring autonomous vehicle manufacturers and operators to report crashes in which autonomous driving systems were in use. NHTSA reported separately on data involving (a) advanced driver assistance systems (“ADAS,” i.e. SAE Level 2) and (b) automated driving systems (“ADS,” i.e. SAE levels 3-5). What’s the upshot from NHTSA’s data drop? Well, it’s complicated. Continue Reading Are Autonomous Vehicles Safe? NHTSA Releases Murky Data on 2021-2022 AV Crashes

On March 10, 2022, Deputy NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff signed a “first-of-its-kind” final rule revising occupant protection standards for automated vehicles. The rule “updates the occupant protection Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards [“FMVSS”] to account for vehicles that do not have traditional manual controls associated with a human driver because they are equipped with automated driving systems [“ADS”].” This is essentially NHTSA’s first attempt to address the effects of vehicle automation on crashworthiness systems. Continue Reading NHTSA Issues “First-Of-Its-Kind” Final Crashworthiness Rule for Automated Vehicles

Supply Chain Brain has published our article, “Will Automotive Supply Chains Face More Disruptions in 2022?“.

In the article, we point out that while supply chain issues likely will not shut down production lines in 2022, to the same extent as 2021, the automotive industry can expect continued challenges.

Last year, the automotive industry experienced successes—the upsurge of electric and autonomous vehicle development—and challenges—the global supply chain fiasco—both of which will impact legal trends.

In my recent Industry Today article, “Driving Into 2022,” I highlight the top five legal trends driving the automotive industry this year. I examine:

  • Supply Chain Disruption
  • Antitrust Issues
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Cybersecurity
  • Product Liability, Class Actions, and Warranty Litigation


The Minnesota Supreme Court said that a report authored for Polaris by regulatory compliance lawyers is not protected from disclosure by the attorney client privilege and can be discovered in a products liability lawsuit against the company. In doing so, the Minnesota Supreme Court formally adopted the “predominant purpose test,” joining the majority of jurisdictions nationwide.

The predominant purpose test asks whether the predominant purpose of a document is to render or solicit legal advice. If so, then the attorney-client privilege protects the entirety of the document from disclosure. If not, then portions of the document that contain legal advice are protected by redaction but the document is otherwise discoverable.

Continue Reading Attorney’s Compliance Report Not Entitled to Attorney-client Privilege Under Predominant Purpose Test

Advanced vehicle control systems, including autonomous functionality, present novel liability considerations for the auto industry. While current law provides a useful framework to assess manufacturer liability, things may change as the “human error” factor is effectively eliminated as an overwhelming cause of vehicle crashes.

Continue Reading Advanced Vehicle Control Systems & Human Error

For the fourth year in a row, respondents to Dykema’s 17th annual M&A Outlook Survey identified the automotive industry as likely to be the busiest sector with M&A activity in the coming 12 months.

Continue Reading Automotive in the Lead: Survey of Top Dealmakers Suggest Boom Times Ahead for Auto Industry M&A

Increasingly, sophisticated autonomous vehicles (AVs) use computers both for guidance purposes and for the collection and processing of data, including information whose collection and dissemination is controlled by generally applicable (or “legacy”) privacy and data security law.

Continue Reading Adapting the Law to Autonomous Vehicles

Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Katie Porter, D-Calif. recently announced that they will be introducing the Booster Seat Safety Act to implement sweeping changes to regulations governing child booster seat safety.

The legislation follows a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, which follows a ProPublica report, which was prompted by a class action and another class action, both of which were prompted by a prior products liability lawsuit.

The Act seeks to introduce a number of mandatory reforms. Per the Subcommittee press release:

Continue Reading Congress Proposes Booster Seat Safety Act—What to Know

In early September, Dykema’s Jeff Cox and Dommond Lonnie served as moderators for the DRI’s Strictly Automotive seminar, joining fellow automotive in-house and outside counsel to discuss trending topics in the industry. Jeff’s session, “The Future of Alternative Fuel Vehicles is Already Here,” included a high-level discussion of alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrid, fully electric and hydrogen fuel cell designs, with an update from manufacturers on their short-term and future development, new technology, EV recalls, and a discussion of ways to best defend an EV case at trial. Dommond’s session, “The Future is Electric,” discussed how the Biden Administration’s Infrastructure Plan and other developments in the legal landscape are poised to drive widespread acceptance of EV technology.

Continue Reading The Future is Electric