Detroit Automakers Announce Commitments to Electric Vehicles

Two Detroit-based automakers are strengthening their commitment to producing electric vehicles. On Monday, October 2, 2017, General Motors and Ford both announced their plans to drastically increase their production of electric vehicles in the coming years. According to the Detroit Free Press, GM is planning on releasing two new electric vehicles in the next 17 months, and Ford plans on adding 13 electric vehicles to their lineup over the next 5 years.

Mark Reuss, the Chief of Product Development at GM’s Warren Tech Center, GM believes that, “the future is electric.” One such electric GM vehicle will be a mid-sized luxury SUV, and another will be a large, sleek, crossover with three rows of seating and is rumored to be a “futuristic” version of one GMs current electric models, the Chevy Bolt. The two vehicles GM is releasing in the near future are part of a larger plan to have 20 electric vehicles on the road by 2023, and is looking to “begin production of hydrogen fuel cells at its Brownstown battery plant in Michigan by 2020.” The automaker says that some of these vehicles will be battery operated and others will be fuel cell operated (meaning they use hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity). The good new for the environment about fuel cell technology is that the only emission of a fuel cell vehicle is water.

GM's announcement for an electric SUV comes at a great time as the market for SUVs is growing quickly (even millennials are interested in larger vehicles), and GM is looking to capitalize on that. 

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Meanwhile Ford has created “Team Edison," a team within the company that is dedicated exclusively to the development of electric vehicles. Ford will be investing $4.5 billion over the next 5 years to develop 13 new battery electric vehicles. These are likely to include hybrid versions of the F-150 pickup truck, Mustang, police responder vehicle, and maybe even an autonomous vehicle. The company is also developing a battery operated small electric SUV. Sherif Marakby, Ford’s Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification said that, “by 2020, Ford plans to produce an electric car that can go 300 miles before needing to recharge.”

Despite the push from large automakers, and the fact that electric car sales reached a record high in 2016, as previously mentioned by The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog, electric vehicles are still fairly uncommon sights on the road. According to Bloomberg, there were 2 million electric vehicles on the road in 2016. While this is a whopping 60% increase from 2015, electric vehicles still only account for just .2% of total lightweight duty vehicles. The New York Times reported that in the first 8 months of 2017, “Americans purchased only about 60,000 battery-powered electric vehicles, and about the same number of plug-in hybrid models...accounting for only 1% of the market.”

If anything, it will be government regulations, not consumer interest, that drive the demand for electric vehicles. China, the United States, and countries in Europe are moving towards tighter emission regulations that could eventually lead to getting rid of gas powered vehicles all together. China, home to strict pollution regulations, is also home to the greatest number of electric vehicles on the road. Bloomberg reported that the US, Germany, China, France, and the UK, among others are part of the Electric Vehicle Initiative, which aims to have “30 percent market share for battery power cars, buses, trucks and vans by 2030.”

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One company that is almost synonymous with electric vehicles is Tesla. While they have shown that there is a demand for electric vehicles, they have also shown how they can be difficult to produce. Tesla’s Model 3 sedan had hundreds of thousands of people paying $1,000 deposits just to be put on a waiting list for the vehicle. But the company recently announced that in the third quarter of this year, they were only able to produce 260 vehicles due to production issues. When it comes to fuel cell vehicles, they are difficult to produce as hydrogen is expensive and not widely available.

Detroit automakers showing such a strong commitment to electric vehicles is encouraging. It’s exciting to know that in a few years there will be many “clean” cars on the road, cutting down on emissions and pollution. Hopefully other automakers will join GM and Ford and make electric vehicles a priority as well, and research and development will make these vehicles easier and cheaper to produce, making them more easily available. Electric vehicles are good for everyone - they will save drivers money on gas, and they help the planet reduce its carbon footprint.


Electric vehicles are good for the environment, but car accidents happen regardless of how fuel efficient a vehicle is. If you have been involved in an automobile accident involving an electric car, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney today. 

Electric Car Sales Reached Record High in 2016

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Today, environmental issues have become a primary concern in society. With many policymakers, activists, and corporations alike, all seeking to inspire a greater movement to sustain the Earth, it is not surprising that the “green movement” is beginning to impact certain industries, specifically the automotive industry. According to Greentech Media, the electric car market hit a record high last year in 2016 when 750,000 electric cars were sold. There are 2 million electric cars being driven in the world today, meaning that almost half of the world's electric cars were sold last year! Although 2 million only accounts for 2% of the market for small, passenger vehicles, it is a large feat for the industry that just began scratching the surface in 2010.

China has led the electric car market, competing directly with the Detroit, Michigan automakers. Of the 750,000 electric vehicles sold last year, China sold 336,000, with much credit due to BYD, a Chinese automaker that has dominated the electric vehicle (EV) market and was responsible for roughly 1/3rd of the country's EV sales. Yet, according to electrek, BYD has recently seen sales drop 34% in early 2017 due to the Chinese government reducing electric vehicle subsidies and incentives, which have been the main reason behind the market’s rapid growth.

After China, Europe sold the second highest amount of electric vehicles, accounting for 215,000. Norway saw the highest EV sales in Europe, selling about 62,000 vehicles. Other European countries that have contributed to sales include the Netherlands, UK, France, Germany, and Sweden. The United States trailed China and Europe selling 160,000 vehicles last year.

Credit:  IEA

Credit: IEA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is optimistic about future growth in the electric car market, projecting car sales between 9 million and 20 million by 2020, and sales between 40 million and 70 million by 2025. Since this is quite a leap from last year's three quarters of a million, many wonder if these numbers are attainable. The answer is that car sales are dependent on the green movement continuing to motivate consumers into seeking more environmentally friendly transportation, as well as automakers designing more practical and less expensive electric vehicles. 

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It's tough enough to buy a regular gasoline car without doing a ton of research, that it's even more difficult for some people to consider electric cars too. Until electric vehicles gain more popularity, the average person may not know enough about them to know how to purchase one of if it's the right vehicle for them. Below is a list of pros and cons provided by PluginCars to aid in decision making.

Cons of Electric Cars:

  1. Limited driving range. A main concern about EVs is that they have a limited driving range of about 80 to 100 miles before they need to recharge. This makes it difficult to take long trips with the car because charging stations may be many miles away and it takes hours to fully recharge.
  2. That leads to the next con, long charging time. However, the time it takes to charge an EV completely depends on the size of its battery. As a general measure for all EVs, 1 hour of charging can put about 20-25 miles back into the car.
  3. EVs are expensive. The average price for an EV is between $30,000 and $40,000, which is more expensive than a standard gas-powered vehicle of its size. However, most U.S. states offer incentives for purchasing electric cars, you can view the incentives by each state here.
  4. Minimal consumer choice. Many of the EV models look similar, and some people do not care for the typical design of an electric car. However, this has been an issue well-addressed by automakers and many new designs have been developed or are in the development process.

Pros of Electric Cars:

  1. They are quiet and quick. An EV delivers a much smoother and quieter ride, and electric cars possess more torque allowing the car to accelerate faster.
  2. EVs can be recharged at home. Electric cars can be easily charged in the confines of your home by simply plugging in the charger into an outlet and letting it charge overnight. In the morning it will be fully charged and ready to be driven.
  3. EVs are cheaper to drive. The cost per mile to fuel an electric vehicle is about 1/4th the cost of gasoline. Also, because the vehicle is electric, the only maintenance costs incurred are tire rotations and maintaining inflated tires.
  4. They do not produce carbon emissions. Of course, the largest benefit to electric vehicles is that they do not include a tailpipe that gives off harmful chemicals into the air, therefore they produce better air quality and benefit the environment.

 

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Clearly, there are both benefits and issues with electric cars, but with the ongoing movement to help sustain the environment, it is foreseeable that EV sales will continue to rise. Given the ongoing creation of new designs and longer lasting batteries from innovative companies such as Tesla, these vehicles are becoming more attractive and appealing to the consumer. It remains to be seen whether electric cars will take over the automotive industry in the future, but it is safe to say the market for electric vehicles will experience considerable growth in the upcoming years.


Electric vehicles are better for the environment and can help reduce our carbon footprint, however, they do not reduce the chance of getting into a car accident. If you or anyone you know has been in an accident of any kind, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Tesla Cars May Self-Drive Sleeping Owners in 2017

Autonomous vehicle technology isn't going anywhere. In fact, more and more companies are researching and testing self-driving technology. Back in May of 2015, The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog introduced its readers to the Google Self-Driving Cars, which were a platoon of self-driving cars being tested on public roads in Mountain View, California. And just two weeks ago, we informed readers about sighting of GM's autonomous Chevy Bolt around San Francisco. High end sports cars, to affordable American car companies, to the company responsible for the world's most used search engine, everyone is getting into the autonomous car game. Last month, Elon Musk, the CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors and the CEO/CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), gave a TED Talk in which he discussed Tesla's goal for implementing self-driving technology. 

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In an exchange between Musk and TED owner Chris Anderson, Musk says, "I think we're still on track for being able to go cross-country from LA to New York by the end of the year, fully autonomous." Anderson seeks clarification by asking, "OK, so by the end of the year, you're saying, someone's going to sit in a Tesla without touching the steering wheel, tap in "New York," off it goes...Won't ever have to touch the wheel — by the end of 2017." Musk confidently tells Anderson, "Yeah. Essentially, November or December of this year, we should be able to go all the way from a parking lot in California to a parking lot in New York, no controls touched at any point during the entire journey."

According to BGR, what makes Musk's statement so impressive is that the driver-less cross-country journey he thinks the Tesla vehicles will be capable of are not set to "a static route, which is to say that the Tesla vehicle will be able to adjust its route in real-time based on traffic patterns. What's more, Mush said that the vehicle would even be able to handle a change in destination on the fly." Musk says, "...certainly once you enter a highway, to go anywhere on the highway system in a given country. So it's not sort of limited to LA to New York. We could change it and make it Seattle-Florida, that day, in real time. So you were going from LA to New York. Now go from LA to Toronto."

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While Tesla's goal to "not have the driver touch the wheel by the end of 2017," is impressive, even more astonishing is Musk's ambition to allow drivers to "be able to buy one of your cars and literally just take the hands off the wheel and go to sleep and wake up and find that they've arrived," in two years time.

Musk made a counterpoint to his own idea by saying, "So the real trick of it is not how do you make it work say 99.9 percent of the time, because, like, if a car crashes one in a thousand times, then you're probably still not going to be comfortable falling asleep...but if you say it's perhaps — the car is unlikely to crash in a hundred lifetimes, or a thousand lifetimes, then people are like, OK, wow, if I were to live a thousand lives, I would still most likely never experience a crash, then that's probably OK."

Tesla Semi-truck

As if fully autonomous cars that drivers can sleep in weren't a tall enough order, Musk also plans to announce an electric Tesla Semi-truck in September, which he claims, "actually can out-torque any diesel semi." And if Tesla's autonomous technology is a success in their cars, perhaps like Otto, Musk will start testing autonomous semis as well, (if he hasn't already)!


While we soon may be able to fall asleep behind the wheel of a Tesla, falling asleep while operating a vehicle will likely result in a motor vehicle accident today. Though fully self-driving cars are in the near future, the world is currently still dependent on ordinary human controlled vehicles. As such, human error is still a cause for concern on roadways, as car accidents are possible. If you or someone you know has been involved in a collision, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation.

U.S. Safety Regulators Pumping the Brakes on Self-Driving Technology

There a few speed bumps that innovators and manufacturers of self-driving cars are going to face before they become mainstream, and it appears one of those will be the government. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx said that he would like to see government regulators and the auto industry work closely together to vigorously test the safety standards of autonomous vehicles before people entrust their safety in the car. 

Tesla Car Crash

The Detroit News reported that Foxx told about 1,200 people at a self-driving convention in San Francisco that robotic controls need to be reviewed more to make sure the DOT and manufacturers are “in sync” before the vehicles hit the road. “This could help assure consumers that the vehicles that they are getting into are stress tested." Foxx also warned automakers to assume drivers will be tempted to take foolish risks while on the road when they activate the autonomous features in a car, which makes it extremely important to design vehicles that minimize the opportunity for disaster. “Sometimes the coolness of technology may drive people to try to push the limits of what the manufacturers intended,” Foxx explained. 

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Self-Driving technology has come under some pressure as of late. Three weeks prior to Foxx’s remarks, Joshua Brown of Canton, Ohio died in May after his Tesla crashed into a truck while using a semi-autonomous feature called “Autopilot.” Brown died after neither he nor the Autopilot feature braked for a truck which was making a left turn near a highway, according to Tesla and federal investigators. Many are pointing to Brown’s death as a prime example of why self-driving cars are simply not ready to go out on the streets. “Autopilot’s failure is a poster child for why enforceable safety standards are needed, not useless voluntary guidelines,” Joan Claybrook of Consumer Watchdog wrote in a letter to Tesla. 

Tesla has consistently defended it’s self-driving features, citing that Brown’s crash was the first death in more than 130 million miles of driving with the Autopilot feature activated. Even with more testing, Foxx is doubtful that self-driving cars will eliminate all accidents. The goal, he stated, is an 80% reduction in the frequency of accidents, which are mostly caused by human error or negligence. Foxx has said that he plans to propose federal government guidelines for self-driving vehicles later this summer, and self-driving cars are still being tested in several states. 


Self-Driving cars aren't predicted to be the norm on the roads for another decade or two, so it's important that drivers are always aware and paying attention to the road. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an accident caused by distracted driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys will work with you to identify the help you need as they work towards settling your case. If a settlement can't be reached, our team is ready to take your case to court. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.