Tesla Motors has filed suit in the US District Court of Northen California against a German parts maker for allegedly not being able to design and produce the ‘falcon wing’ doors on its Model X electric crossover, resulting in vehicle production delays.
Tesla contracted with Hoerbiger Automotive Comfort Systems to make the falcon wing hydraulic lift mechanism after the company won the bid from several other suppliers in early 2014. However according to details in the suit, Hoerbiger could not come up with a suitable design for its vertically raising door between February 2014 through May, 2015. During that time, none of the prototypes submitted by Hoerbiger met Tesla’s engineering standards. According to the Tesla suit, the prototypes leaked oil, sagged, and also produced excessive heat which caused them to stop functioning.
In a statement from Tesla’s spokesperson issued to the Wall Street Journal, Tesla claims “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”. “We will vigorously prosecute this case.” Tesla insists it owes the German company nothing more than than the $3 million it has already paid for the faulty prototypes.
Hoerbiger is demanding the balance of the money it says it is due pursuant to its contract with Tesla. Following the failure of the hydraulic prototypes, Tesla designed its own electro-mechanical system to open and close the doors and hired a new supplier. According to the lawsuit, “Tesla incurred millions of dollars in damages, including, but not limited to costs of re-tooling the entire vehicle in order to support a different engineering solution.” Tesla claims it had to pay the new supplier a premium to build the new system as quickly as possible.
Speculation on the falcon wing doors being the root cause for Model X production delays has caused the company a certain amount of undesired publicity. Despite the late stage set back, it’s a wonder production started as early as it did. “Model X deliveries are in line with the very early stages of our Model X production ramp as we prioritize quality above all else,” the spokeswoman said. “That ramp has been increasing exponentially, with the daily production rate in the last week of the year tracking to production of 238 Model X vehicles per week.”