Automotive and Mobility

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Today, the global automotive industry is experiencing revolutionary change as significant megatrends and undreamed of innovations redefine the rules for future success. The speed and magnitude of this transformation have forced companies to rethink product development processes, investments, partnerships, and technology.

In the midst of this radical change, a global pandemic COVID-19 has sparked the unprecedented collapse of the global economy in the matter of a few weeks. For the automotive industry, the impact has been severe along all points of the supply chain from raw materials to the sale of finished vehicles. Manufacturing and assembly have been shut down across the globe, and only now are we seeing the early signs of restarting the industry. It is too early to tell even the short term impact of the effects of this pandemic, with suppliers and OEMs literally taking things one day at a time. No doubt, as we have witnessed over the decades, the automotive industry, as well as our communities, will overcome the challenges we are facing today and grow stronger.

Within the current environment, new trade and regulatory agreements are being implemented such as the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement (USMCA). The effect is driving potential revisions of the global supply chain including creating strategic redundancies and “reshoring.” New ways of structuring operations and the importance of alliances and combinations are all being closely evaluated.

These immediate challenges have not eliminated the upcoming trends that have gained significant momentum. As advancements such as Autonomous Vehicles, Electrification, and Mobility as a Service (MAAS) evolve and interact, the result will be a reorganization of the manufacturing value chain impacting design, assembly operations, suppliers, retailing, financing, and public and private infrastructure.

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 lawyers draw upon deep reserves of experience and skills, many forged during the depths of the financial crisis a little over a decade ago. 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. 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 spanning 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 Information Technology
Autonomous & Connected Vehicles Intellectual Property
Bankruptcy & Restructuring International

Canada-U.S. Platform

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

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 through drafting and negotiating production and non-production purchasing contracts and agreements related to joint ventures, and 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 global manufacturing and distribution matters as well as in 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 agreements including IP provisions in an agreement 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 the assessment of 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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