Malcolm Bricklin’s company, V Cars (formerly Visionary Vehicles), was awarded $2 million by a Detroit jury in U.S. District court. The lawsuit was filed after Bricklin’s failed effort to set up a joint venture with Chery to produce Chinese made cars for the North American market. The jury ruled that KCA Engineering, a company founded by former Visionary executive Dennis Gore while he was still an employee of Bricklin’s startup, had committed fraud as well as a number of other misdeeds. When Gore was first hired by Visionary, Bricklin said it was because of his expertise with Asian car manufacturers.
In the suit, V Cars LLC v. KCA Engineering LLC, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, No. 2:11-cv-12805, Bricklin accused Gore of using V Car’s proprietary information to assist Chery in launching the Qoros Automobile Co, in a joint venture with the Israel Corp holding company, controlled by the Ofer family.
Chery and Visionary Vehicles entered into a joint venture in December 2004. Weeks later Bricklin staged a guerrilla press conference in the lobby of Cobo Hall during the 2005 NAIAS media preview to hype the project, predicting that they’d be selling 150,000 Chinese cars in the United States by 2007. The JV was cancelled in 2006.
“This has been a long time coming,” Bricklin said in an interview. “We found out what was really going on behind our back at the end of ’06 and we have been trying to get justice ever since.” The Qoros venture was announced in 2007.
The suit against KCA is just one of a number of lawsuits filed by Bricklin in an assortment of countries to try collect damages over his soured deal with Chery. Litigation is continuing in V Cars LLC v. Chery Automobile Co et al., which seeks over a billion dollars in damages and lost projected earnings for what Bricklin claims was racketeering on the part of Chery.
Ever the promoter, Bricklin, who introduced Subaru and the Yugo to the United States and started his own car company to produce the gull-winged Bricklin SV-1 car, touted his success with the jury in Detroit:
“This is a gratifying step in a continuing process that bodes well for our RICO suit against Chery. It doesn’t make up for the betrayal of Dennis Gore. And it doesn’t change the fact that consumers missed out on what would have been terrific cars. But it’s nice to win; and we have won every decision so far.”
In a 2009 interview with Car & Driver, Bricklin didn’t hold back on what he thought of Chery:
When Chery went from the bastard child of China to its favored son—because of what we were doing—and companies like Chrysler began to court them, they decided to see if they could screw me. Thought they would see if they could take it all back, and they did, and we’re suing them for $14 billion. China has the ability, they have the talent, they had the opportunity, but they don’t yet understand you can’t do business in the rest of the world the way they do business in China. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near them.