Automotive and Mobility

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The global automotive industry is experiencing revolutionary change as significant megatrends, and breakthrough innovations redefine all aspects of mobility and the rules for future success. The speed and magnitude of this transformation have forced companies to rethink product development processes, investments, partnerships, and technology. The industry is also challenged by supply chain disruptions, a limited supply of skilled workers, and material shortages. Within this environment, new trade and regulatory agreements are also being implemented, such as the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement (USMCA).

The convergence of these factors is driving revisions to the structure of the global supply chain, including moves to create strategic redundancies and “reshoring.” New ways of configuring operations and the importance of access to capital, alliances and combinations are all being closely evaluated. Capacity constraints and limited inventories of semiconductor chips, raw material shortages, and delays at major ports all contribute to questions about the resiliency of OEM and supplier supply chains. Combined with the global shift from internal combustion engines (ICE) to battery electric vehicles (EV) driven by worldwide climate concerns and an estimated investment of over $200 billion, the entire industry is being reinvented.

The transition from ICE to EV will be transformative, disruptive, if not existential, for many segments of the automotive industry. All direct and indirect participants in the automotive supply chain will be affected to some degree. As the OEMs transition to solely EV powered vehicles, the viability of suppliers who don’t have the ability to invest in the required new technology or whose product offering is not compatible with EV production will be in jeopardy as new business opportunities materially decline, volumes decrease, early termination of programs increase, profits erode, financing becomes problematic, and prospective acquirers become scarce. Although there will likely be some delay in the transition, we believe that all segments of the supply chain need to proceed today to adjust their business model to anticipate this transition. The challenge of maintaining ICE vehicle production while transitioning to EV, given the many uncertainties regarding timing, competition, government policies (incentives, regulations), and consumer acceptance, will result in significant risks and opportunities.

Our Team

The automotive team at Dickinson Wright has stood at the forefront of anticipating and addressing many of these changes, expanding our focus from traditional automotive companies to a broader perspective of advanced technology, personal transportation, and mobility. Our core automotive industry practice has built a foundation of leadership, bringing over a century of practical and actionable advice and vigorous advocacy to the companies in the industry that have become the leaders in both the OEM space and the global supply chain. Our lawyers draw upon deep reserves of experience in the reorganization of the manufacturing value chain impacting design, assembly operations, suppliers, retailing, financing, and public and private infrastructure. The fusion of our industry experience with the vision and creativity gained from working with technology disrupters provides unique value to our clients as the automotive industry reinvents and redefines itself.

Our Firm

Since our founding in Detroit in 1878, we have operated at the center of the North American automotive industry. Today, with offices strategically located across North American in key automotive corridors from Detroit to Ontario, Ohio to Washington D.C., and Tennessee to the Silicon Valley, we work with both traditional power players from around the world and technology innovators that are advancing change and spurring significant industry developments.

Our Services

Distinguished by our dedication to superior client service, we are committed to providing practical and actionable advice along with cost-effective delivery of services by applying our deep industry knowledge and leveraging advanced technology and communication strategies. Our work includes:

Automotive Corporate Transactions                             Intellectual Property
Autonomous & Connected Vehicles International
Bankruptcy & Restructuring • Joint Ventures

Canada-U.S. Platform

Labor & Employment
• Complex Commercial Matters • Litigation
• Contracts, e-Commerce & Marketing Mergers & Acquisitions
• Cross-border Transactions • Mobility as a Service (MAAS)
• Dealer & Distribution Arrangements • Product Liability, Recalls, & Warranties
• Electrification • Supply Chain
Environmental • Terms & Conditions
 • Financing  • Trade Regulation
Government Regulations Troubled Suppliers
IT & Digital Transformation  

Representative Experience

–Counseled multiple automotive manufacturing companies in finding practical solutions to legal and business issues, including corporate, commercial, real property, troubled customer and supplier, bankruptcy, and general business matters.


Counseled multiple automotive clients in corporate formation, liability deterrence, and tax planning matters.


Assisted clients in managing their purchasing and manufacturing risks by drafting and negotiating production and non-production purchasing contracts and agreements related to joint ventures, outsourcing projects, and supply chain and logistics matters.


Counseled automotive and industrial clients in international corporate matters including cross-border acquisitions and direct investments, joint ventures, and strategic alliances, the establishment of subsidiaries, branch offices, and other facilities, marketing, and licensing arrangements, customs, and international trade, export controls, and international regulatory compliance.


–Represented global vehicle and parts manufacturers and suppliers in worldwide manufacturing and distribution matters and specialty automotive projects involving amphibious vehicles, Formula 1 racing programs, and start-up electric vehicle manufacturers.


–Counseled domestic branches of Canadian, Japanese, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Indian, Swiss, Brazilian, Russian, Italian, South African, and Taiwanese businesses in the automotive industry.


–Counseled Tier 1 suppliers in stock and asset purchase and sale transactions.


Counseled clients on the changes in risk allocations occurring between traditional automotive and new technology companies.


Assisted clients in mitigating supply chain risks by developing proactive in-contract provisions that companies can implement in the event of distressed customers, supplier situations, and impending legal action.


Drafted and negotiated intellectual property (IP) licensing agreements and IP provisions in joint ventures, asset sales, and other contracts, including IP provisions in a deal for the sale of a $1 billion line of business.


Drafted and negotiated agreements in troubled supplier/workout situations, including accommodation and related agreements.


Drafted and negotiated agreements with universities and USCAR, and technology development agreements with the government.


–Assisted clients with assessing labor issues associated with various operational decisions including plant closings, transfers, consolidations, and mergers and acquisitions.


–Represented large and midsize automotive sector clients in all manner of workplace safety and insurance matters; all sizes of industrial, construction, manufacturing operations, and workforces; and other Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 employers in workplace safety and insurance matters.


–Represented Tier One automotive suppliers in the negotiation of recognition agreements and subsequent negotiations for initial collective bargaining agreements for facilities in several states.


Represented clients in varied business litigation matters ranging from significant patent disputes to complex, bet-the-company class actions, product liability claims, and warranty and other commercial disputes.

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