Tesla Sues German Auto Parts Supplier Over Model X Falcon Door Delays

Jan 21, 2016 12:52 PM EST | John Nassivera

Tesla Motors is suing a German auto parts maker for misrepresenting its ability to design and build the Model X's signature "falcon wing" doors, which caused delays for the electric crossover.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, claims that Tesla paid Hoerbiger Automotive Comfort Systems to build the vertically rising doors for the Model X, but the company was unable to produce them to Tesla's standards between February 2014 and May 2015 like it said it could, according to The Wall Street Journal. The prototypes apparently leaked oil and sagged or produced excessive heat, which made them stop working.

The electric automaker cut ties with Hoerbiger in May 2015 and plans on stopping the supplier from demanding more payment, having asked the court to state that it didn't breach any contracts and to pay damages and attorney fees.

"We were forced to file this lawsuit after Hoerbiger decided to ignore their contracts with us and instead demanded a large sum of money to which they are not entitled," a Tesla spokeswoman said in an email. "We will vigorously prosecute this case."

Hoerbiger makes hydraulic systems for automotive parts like liftgates, trunk lids and convertible tops, Automotive News noted. The lawsuit notes that the company is seeking more compensation from Tesla than the $3 million it has already been paid.

In addition to the Model X's debut being delayed several times (initially from late 2013 to late 2015), Tesla said that it "incurred millions of dollars in damages," with such costs including those for retooling for the sports-utility vehicle and "premium payments" for a new supplier. The automaker added that Hoerbiger made "a series of unreasonable demands" after they cut ties, such as working with the supplier over the course of the Model X's life and paying damages "that are specifically barred by the parties' agreement."

Tesla has built an electromechanical door and hired a new supplier since ditching Hoerbiger, the lawsuit states, WSJ reported. The new supplier has yet to be identified.

A Hoerbiger spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.

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