December 7, 2006

Former Ford designer files lawsuit against Chery Automobile of China

Southfield, Michigan – Kenneth G. Grant, Jr., a former lead designer at Ford in the 1990s who worked on the Mustang and Thunderbird, is suing Chinese automaker Chery after the company terminated him.

In the lawsuit, Grant says that he was solicited to become chief U.S. designer for Chery and its U.S. partner Visionary Vehicles. 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, which manufactures automobiles in China, had previously announced plans with Visionary Vehicles 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. Grant prepared numerous auto design concepts for Chery, which it and Visionary Vehicles showcased in the media and in public presentations.

In August 2006, Chery approved one of Grant’s automobile design projects; on September 6, 2006, Visionary Vehicles announced to Grant that it was cancelling its plan for a U.S. design studio and terminating him as its chief designer; instead, it said Chery was entering into a business arrangement with DaimlerChrysler to develop a new small car.

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