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Tesla sues supplier over falcon-door debacle

After having to deal with allegedly substandard doors and the fallout from that, Tesla is not happy that an old flame is still poking around, asking for more.

Nobody wants a door (or an interior) covered in oil.

Tim Stevens/CNET

In February 2014, Tesla partnered with parts supplier Hoerbiger Automotive Comfort Systems to provide the trick falcon-wing folding rear doors for its Model X electric crossover. In May 2015, Tesla and Hoerbiger cut ties, and the automaker switched door suppliers. Hoerbiger didn't much like that, and now Tesla is suing the supplier for, well, a variety of reasons.

Tesla and Hoerbiger allegedly cut ties because Hoerbiger's prototype doors weren't living up to Tesla's expectations. The lawsuit (linked here in full) claims that Hoerbiger's doors "sagged beyond...specified tolerance levels" and were leaking oil both inside and outside the vehicle. Tesla decided it was better off with a different supplier, and so the two parties went separate ways.

That's where it starts to get interesting. Despite paying what Tesla believed to be the full, agreed-upon sum, Hoerbiger claimed that Tesla "was obligated to work with Hoerbiger for the life of the Model X program." Additionally, the supplier believed it was owed more money from Tesla. The whole point of this lawsuit, then, is to get a judge to declare that Tesla owes Hoerbiger nothing.

Tesla is also seeking undetermined compensation for punitive damages and costs and fees incurred in dealing with this matter. After splitting ways with Hoerbiger, the automaker was forced to retool its manufacturing facility and seek out a new supplier, all of which are actions that incur sizable costs.

Neither Tesla nor Hoerbiger immediately returned requests for comment.