Tesla Sues Supplier Over Falcon-Wing Door Misrepresentations, Demands For Payment

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 4.42.32 PMThe super-cool, futuristic looking doors on Tesla’s Model X might be eye-catching, but they were apparently a source of consternation for the company and one of its suppliers, according to a new lawsuit. 

Tesla filed suit [PDF] against Alabama-based Hoerbiger Automotive Comfort Systems LLC, the company the carmaker partnered with in 2014 to create the falcon-wing doors for the SUV crossover vehicle, accusing it of misrepresenting its ability to engineer the hydraulic system for the doors and asking a judge to stop the company from demanding further payment from the electric car manufacturer.

The saga between Tesla and Hoerbiger begins back in February 2014, when the companies partnered to create the rear folding doors to be used on the Model X crossover.

A little more than a year later, in May 2015, Tesla says it decided the relationship wasn’t panning out, specifically, the doors weren’t functioning as promised, and it moved to cut ties with Hoerbiger.

According to the lawsuit, the carmaker felt the doors “sagged beyond Tesla’s specified tolerance levels… persistently leaked oil, both internally and externally… and the prototype never came close to fulfilling the promises” made by the company.

“After enduring Hoerbiger’s defects and false assurances, paying for a year of fruitless development work, and having incurred significant costs as a result of Hoerbiger’s failed promises, Tesla decided to pursue an alternative supplier and engineering design for the actuation system of the Model X Falcon Wing doors,” the suit states.

Tesla claims it then paid the full, agreed-upon sum due to Hoerbiger, and began working with another supplier to create the doors, which were set to debut in just four months.

According to the lawsuit, Hoerbiger didn’t let the issue go, allegedly making “unreasonable demands” of the carmaker, including saying that Tesla was obligated to work with the company for the life of the Model X program and that the company is owed additional damages.

Tesla filed the lawsuit in order to rid itself once and for all of Hoerbiger, seeking a judge’s order that the carmaker doesn’t owe the supplier anything.

Additionally, the suit seeks millions of dollars in compensation for punitive damages, costs, and fees incurred in dealing with the dispute, including those related to: “the costs of re-tooling the entire vehicle in order to support a different engineering solution; costs that were sunk into testing the Model X vehicle that embodied the Hoerbiger hydraulic part; premium payments that Tesla needed to pay a new supplier to provide alternative electromechanical parts within TESLA’S timeline for production; and costs associated with the business disruption within Tesla’s sourcing, engineering, and business teams caused by Hoerbiger’s inability to fulfill its promises.”

[via CNET]