Automotive

OEMs, suppliers and tech companies alike trust us in any CASE – we advise our clients in all questions regarding connectivity, autonomous cars, sharing cars and electrification.

Demographic changes such as increased urbanisation, economic and technological power shifts and climate change are having a significant impact on the automotive industry globally. In order to remain competitive, industry players need to embrace these changes as opportunities and develop their business models accordingly. 

We are one of a handful of firms with a dedicated automotive sector team. Our global sector-led approach ensures that our lawyers have extensive knowledge of the automotive industry and understand clients’ commercial as well as their legal needs in these times of transformational change for the industry. With our holistic approach, we see the big picture and know the strategic relevance that one (minor) decision could have.
We are familiar with the challenges and opportunities which have risen out of the developments within the automotive market, having advised a number of longstanding clients operating within this space worldwide.
 
We can advise over the full life cycle from greenfield financing and development (e.g. production plants), M&A, operational phase issues to plant closures plus product related, regulatory advice in the construction phase up to dispute litigation (e.g. regarding product liability) and any antitrust related questions.

Our experience

With the industry 4.0 and the need of both, suppliers and OEMs to build new production sites and/or integrated multi-brand or multi-type matrix platforms that suit the changing and challenging developments, for example the requirements of electrified cars, there is a push for (joint) greenfield investments in the industry. Our expertise includes advising in the bidding process, on real estate matters, construction and operation and management contracts as well as corporate and regulatory challenges.

Experience highlights:
  • a major internet technology company: Advising on its EV efforts and its US$9.5bn China investment project for manufacturing EV in Southern part of China
  • a worldwide leading US electric vehicle manufacturer: Advising on its selection of Chinese partners with respect to the establishment of an EV manufacturing in Shanghai
  • Bangchan General Assembly Co., Ltd. and Mercedes-Benz Thailand Limited: Advising on the bidding process, real estate matters, construction contract and transportation matters to establish a Vehicle Preparation Centre, valued at THB 3m

The product development cycle of cars and the development of new functionalities are accelerating - in part due to competition with emerging corporations and tech companies - and there is a wider regulatory environment that has to be adhered to, when developing and designing cars. Product compliance is of the utmost importance and in case product design did not meet or worked against the spirit of legal requirements, we have a wide experience when it comes to crisis and/or risk management support.

Experience highlights:
  • a leading software company: Advising on the legal framework for the use of dashcams in vehicles in 17 jurisdictions 
  • a leading vehicle glass repair and replacement group: Advising on legal questions in the context of anonymization and pseudonymization of personal data
  • a leading OEM: Advising on the legal and regulatory issues of using digital keys

Electrification changes the way we understand mobility. New questions with regards to the regulation of batteries, alternative fuel infrastructure and product liability law have to be anticipated. Additionally, questions regarding smart-contracting and contactless payments, health and safety regulations as well as electricity regulation in the broader sense have to be kept in mind – which we do with our holistic advice.
 
Experience highlights: 
  • a leading OEM: Advising on the legal protection of the electrification strategy
  • a worldwide leading US electric vehicle manufacturer: Advising on its selection of Chinese partners with respect to the establishment of an EV manufacturing plant
  • a major internet technology company: Advising on its EV efforts and its US$9.5bn China investment project for manufacturing EVs in Southern part of China
 

Level three and upwards is also a core competence of our Automotive Sector Team. We are aware that autonomous driving touches many legal areas and have the required experience and overview of the sector. Our experience covers, amongst others, product liability, data protection, warranty law, antitrust, telecommunication law as well as behavioural, road traffic and patent law.

Experience highlights:
  • a leading OEM: Advising on all aspects of using car-generated personal data for the development of autonomous functions
  • a leading OEM: Advising on all aspects of behavioural and road traffic law regarding autonomous cars
  • Intel: Advising on the competition and merger control aspects of its acquisition of a 15% stake in. Here, a global provider of digital maps and location-based services for automotive and Internet of Things (IoT) from BMW, Audi and Daimler, entering into a collaboration agreement for the R&D of an architecture that would support HD maps for highly and fully automated driving

Connected cars are both the first logical step on the way to becoming autonomous and a way to create new business models for OEMs, suppliers and tech-companies. We advise in all these areas and have a special focus on Vehicle2Vehicle, Vehicle2Infrastructure communication, in-car-shops and over-the-air updates. We are also very knowledgeable in the areas of car-sharing, car-hauling and the use of digital keys. In all these areas we offer holistic advice from a data protection law, product liability law, regulatory law, antitrust law perspective from a one stop shop as we know one single point of contact is important.

Experience highlights:
  • a leading OEM: Advising on the display of legal texts in apps
  • a leading OEM: Advising on questions about functions-on-demand (in all relevant jurisdictions)
  • a leading OEM: Advising on the update of over-the-air legal issues (in all relevant jurisdictions)

With the changing market and regulatory environment and the many challenges the automotive industry faces at the same time we know that there is a strong need to consolidate, collaborate and to join forces through joint ventures or acquisitions. When setting up any such operation in the automotive sector, especially regarding product development, you need corporate lawyers with a strong automotive sector background, which Linklaters can provide.

Experience highlights:
  • The Hertz Corporation: Advising on the BRL 337m strategic partnership with Localiza Rent aCar S.A. (Localiza), the largest car rental network in South America and the market leader in Brazil
  • Bangchan General Assembly Co., Ltd. and Mercedes-Benz Thailand Limited: Advising on the bidding process, real estate matters, construction contract and transportation matters to establish a Vehicle Preparation Centre, valued at THB 3m
  • a Chinese OEM (listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange): Advising on its acquisition of (i) an EV battery modules R&D technology company based in the US and in Germany, (ii) a EV Motor and BMS technology company in the US, (iii) a EV manufacturing base in the US

Key Automotive events

We regularly speak at events, conferences and fairs across the globe. Swipe or scroll through the events to find out where you can meet us. Covid-19: All upcoming events are either cancelled or postponed. For further information, please contact your usual Linklaters contact.

FT Future of the car summit | May 2020

We are delighted to be attending, speaking at and sponsoring the FT Future of the car summit, which takes place in London from 12 – 13 May 2020.
Read more FT Future of the car summit | May 2020

1st European Automotive and Mobility Services Conference | March 2020

We are attending the International Bar Association (IBA), 1st European Automotive and Mobility Services Conference on 4-5 March 2020 in Munich.

North American International Auto Show | June 2020

We are attending the North American International Auto Show (Detroit Auto Show) on 5-20 June 2020 in Detroit, U.S.

UK Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders

We are sponsoring the UK Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Learn more about our sectors:

Energy & Utilities

Linklaters’ dedicated energy and utilities lawyers have peerless knowledge and experience, encompassing major transactions and regulatory advice in the global oil and gas, power, nuclear and renewables industries.

Technology

As technology continues to rapidly transform businesses, markets and everyday life, our priority is to help clients at all stages of growth maximise opportunities - and navigate the threats - in this increasingly interconnected, dynamic and demanding world.

Infrastructure & Transport

Linklaters is recognised as a leading firm in the infrastructure market. For over 25 years we have been involved in many of the largest, most high-profile and “first of their kind” acquisitions, disposals, refinancings, and securitisations in the sector as well as being involved with major construction and operation projects around the world.

 

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