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Tesla in legal battle over falcon-wing doors

2016-01-26 10:01

ELECTRIC SUV: Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveils the automaker's first SUV, the Model X, at its launch in California. Image: AFP / Susana Bates

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Berlin - A Swiss company, that has been sued by Tesla over alleged faulty gull-wing style doors, rejected a claim on Monday (January 25 2016) that it failed to fulfill Tesla's requirements for the system.

Hoerbiger Automotive Comfort Systems said the electric automaker implied in a lawsuit filed this week that Tesla ended its relationship with Hoerbiger because it failed to fulfill the specified requirements for the hydraulic system for the doors, which are a feature of Tesla's Model X sport utility vehicle.

The Swiss company Hoerbiger said in a press release it "strongly rejects" that claim.

Why use falcon-wing doors?

The doors, which Tesla calls falcon-wing style, have been called one of the most intriguing features of the Model X.

They allow easy access to rear rows of seats and are designed to sense closely parked cars and adjust automatically.

'Multitude of defects'

Tesla filed suit Tuesday in San Jose, California, against Hoerbiger's US affiliate, saying it never ordered Hoerbiger to begin producing the doors because the company failed to deliver a product that met Tesla's specifications.

Tesla said instead it had to notify Hoerbiger on multiple occasions of the "multitude of defects with its product," and while Hoerbiger insisted it could fix the problems, it failed to do so.

Breach of contract?

The company said it was filing the lawsuit because since Tesla terminated the relationship, the Swiss company has made demands it considers unreasonable, including that Tesla was obligated to work with Hoerbiger for the life of the Model X programme.

It seeks a judgement that it is not in breach of any contractual obligation to Hoerbiger and owes it nothing.

Hoerbiger's statement on Monday pointed the finger back at Tesla. It said it had been fully prepared to begin production according to Tesla's most current schedule when Tesla cancelled the contract last year, and it said it had been in compliance with Tesla's specifications.

It also said reports implying Hoerbiger was responsible for the design of the Tesla Model X doors were misleading.

Hoerbiger said its only task was development and production of the hydraulic door system, not the electronic controls associated with problems cited in Tesla'a complaint.

The problems with the doors have been blamed for causing delays in the delivery of the Model X, which went into production late last year far later than planned.

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