Auto designer sues Chery, Visionary Vehicles

Out of the Chery/Visionary Vehicles breakup/separation/whatever currently going on comes a story of one disgruntled would-be designer.

Kenneth G. Grant Jr., former Ford automotive designer who worked on the last Thunderbird and other projects, filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming, among other things, breach of contract on the parts of Chery and Visionary Vehicles. It seems Grant was under the impression he was to be the design chief of the Chery/Visionary Vehicles U.S. studio. When the two companies' plans didn't work out, Grant claims he was left jobless.

Visionary Vehicles, through a statement emailed to Autoblog, says that Grant was fully compensated for design work it requested of him. Visionary's statement goes on to say Grant was not offered longtime employment. The statement ends with " It appears that Visionary Vehicles' inclusion in this case may be an effort to generate more public attention to this complaint."

Read Grant's statement as well as Visionary Vehicles' after the jump.

[Source: PR Newswire]
Press release from Kenneth G. Grant's lawfirm...

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Sommers Schwartz, P.C., announces plaintiff news conference planned for Thursday, December 7, 2006, at 1:00 p.m.

News Briefing Details
WHAT: News conference to announce the filing of a nine count complaint
against Chery Automobile Co. and Visionary Vehicles. Plaintiff's claims
include Breach of Express Contract, Breach of Implied Contract, and
Conspiracy. This suit arises out of Chery terminating Grant as its chief
U.S. auto designer and failing to establish its planned U.S. auto design
studio in suburban Detroit, Michigan.

WHO: * Plaintiff, Kenneth G. Grant, Jr., of Northville, Michigan. Grant
was the lead designer at Ford on the Mustang and Thunderbird vehicles in
the 1990's and was responsible for numerous U.S. and foreign auto design
projects after leaving Ford. Grant was solicited to become chief U.S.
designer for Chery's and Visionary Vehicles' U.S. joint venture. In the
summer of 2006, Grant severed all other professional and business
relationships to take the job as Chery's U.S. design chief. Chery
manufactures autos in China and together with its partner, Visionary
Vehicles, previously announced plans to begin importing vehicles to the
U.S. in 2007. Grant's employment was to be for five years, with Grant
acting as head of Chery's U.S. design studio. Chery established a Michigan
limited liability company in July 2006 to operate its U.S. design studio
and rented office space in suburban Detroit, Michigan to house the design
studio. Grant was a 15 percent owner of the design studio company. Grant
prepared numerous auto design concepts for Chery, which it and Visionary
Vehicles showcased in the media and in public presentations. In August
of 2006, Chery approved one of Grant's automobile design projects. On
September 6, 2006 Visionary Vehicles announced to Grant that Chery was
canceling its plan for their U.S. design studio and terminating him as its
chief designer; instead Chery was entering into a business arrangement
with DaimlerChrysler to develop a new small car.
* Daniel D. Swanson, Attorney for Plaintiff, Sommers Schwartz, P.C.

WHERE: Law Offices of Sommers Schwartz P.C., 2000 Town Center, Suite 900
- 9th floor board room.

Statement from Visionary Vehicles

To date Visionary Vehicles has not been served with regard to this matter.
Based on what we have seen on the wires, this case appears to have little to
do with Visionary Vehicles. Earlier this year, Mr. Grant was contracted to
do some design work for Visionary Vehicles, for which he was fully
compensated upon completion and delivery of the work, as is standard within
the industry. However, at no time was any employee at Visionary Vehicles
authorized to offer Mr. Grant the type of employment suggested in the press
announcement or to contract for any additional services. It appears that
Visionary Vehicles' inclusion in this case may be an effort to generate more
public attention to this complaint.

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