GM, Volkswagen Settle Feud

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DETROIT: Volkswagen agreed to pay General Motors $100 million as part of a settlement ending a long and bitter lawsuit alleging that Volkswagen stole trade secrets. VW also agreed to buy at least $1 billion worth of parts from GM over seven years. The deal reportedly had been in the works ever since last month, when German prosecutors indicted the central figure in the case, Jose Ignacio Lopez. It closes a dispute that began in March 1993, when Lopez, about to be promoted to General Motors' chief of North American operations, moved overnight to Volkswagen, along with seven other key GM executives. GM accused Lopez of stealing thousands of pages of documents and computer diskettes when he went to work for the competition. According to sources, those secrets included GM plans for a super-efficient car factory and a cost-cutting system that GM used to teach its suppliers to be more efficient, information that GM believes has in part fueled VW's recent turnaround. Although the deal ends the dispute between the automakers, the troubles are just beginning for Lopez, who along with facing criminal charges in Germany is still under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.