Tesla Sues Supplier For Delays In Designing Model X’s Falcon Wing Doors

JAN 20 2016 BY JAY COLE 90

During the Tesla Model X’s much-delayed history, the finger was often pointed towards the innovative, and complex operation of the falcon wing doors as a primary culprit.

And as often as those fingers were pointed towards CEO Elon Musk’s much loved new feature, the company would not confirm any one specific issue.

Tesla Model X Falcon Wing Doors - As Forecasted, Not The Easiest Thing To Make

Tesla Model X Falcon Wing Doors – As Forecasted, Not The Easiest Thing To Make

As it turns out…some of those times, it was the doors.

But apparently, it was not Tesla’s fault, it was the designer’s.

In a lawsuit against a Swiss German supplier contracted to design the door, Tesla details Hoerbiger Automotive Comfort Systems’ inability to produce a workable “falcon wing” model in a timely fashion, causing the California automaker to source an alternate supplier who could, causing extended delays in the Model X’s launch.

Specific to the lawsuit is a request to stop Hoerbiger from demanding more payments from Tesla after the company was forced to drop the Swiss firm in May of 2015, just 4 months ahead of the Model X’s launch.

WSJ explains further

“Tesla claims it paid Hoerbiger, which makes hydraulic lift gates, to develop the vertically rising side doors on its Model X after a competition with several other companies. But between February 2014 and May 2015, the company couldn’t produce a prototype that passed Tesla’s engineering standards.  According to the lawsuit, prototypes from Hoerbiger leaked oil and sagged or produced excessive heat, causing them to stop working.”

Tesla Demonstrates Falcon Wing Doors

Tesla Demonstrates Functional Falcon Wing Doors After  Supplier Hoerbiger Had Earlier Failed To Design A Working Model

A Tesla also spokeswoman offered this comment to the Wall Street Journal:

“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.”

Hoerbiger is seeking payment for the work not completed, but that it was promised.  Tesla to date has paid $3 million in prototyping parts and engineering.  After dismissing Hoerbiger last May, Tesla built an alternate electromechnical door system hired a new supplier.

“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…. In addition, Tesla had to pay the new supplier a premium to rush out a workable solution.”

The Wall Street Journal

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90 Comments on "Tesla Sues Supplier For Delays In Designing Model X’s Falcon Wing Doors"

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Picture form the First Responder Guide

Wow, thanks. Coil springs in the roof. Those must have added some weight. When upgrading from standard, to high rise door for a lift, I went with a coil (not typical longitudinal, but the kind that winds the door up). It’s rated for ~2,000 cycles. What’s good, here IMO, is gas struts perform less well when cold. They also fail sooner, than springs. Overall, I like it.

FWIW, who could have been in their comfort zone, to attempt this project?

I hope those coils have a longer service life than the ones that hold up my garage door. Also curious what happens if one snaps.

If you open the garage door twice a day, the coil spring will last only 2.7 years (2,000/730). After 2,000 cycles, does the spring have to be replaced or can the door/spring be recalibrated for further use?

My garage door torsion springs tend to snap without warning every 5 to 10 years or so. I have an old heavy pressed-wood door that weighs several hundred pounds. With one spring still working, I can barely lift it back up using some pry-boards. Then I call the garage-door tech to replace both springs, since he always says the other spring is also likely to fail. I wouldn’t want to do it, since those springs are scary.

I suspect that the Tesla springs could be more durable or torqued less, so they may last much longer. But I bet those gull doors are heavy if a spring did snap. And if it snapped while open, I could envision broken glass or an injured passenger … hope I’m wrong.

I wonder if the Model X will keep track of how many times the falcon-winged doors open and close, and give a warning that maintenance is required after a set number of cycles is reached. The maintenance required would be changing out the torsion springs.

The Reason these springs break is because they dry up, the metal spring becomes brittle & as a result loose their Elasticity & snap under load……… The solution to extending their life is, spray them liberally periodically(((once a Yr)))with a High Grade silicon lubricant penetrant…….You see all steel has pores much like human skin ,these pores absorb the lubricant literally like a sponge & keep the metal hydrated to maintain their Elasticity as when new , this will extend the life of the spring resulting in many less failures over time…I do this with my double Garage doors & had “ZER0” spring failures in 33yrs…

Is there a particular brand of lubricant that you’d recommend?

One sentence from Tesla springs to garages..a new record.

Wait. You mean this is about money? I thought it was about saving the planet. 🙂

Things will be much collegial on Mars.

Saving the planet is freaking expensive.

You need to either tax heavily or generate massive profits to fund the saving.

Tesla does not have the power to tax.

What can I buy to save the planet?

Electric SUVs are like fat free chocolate cake. You replace a stick of butter with five pounds of sugar.

We need to stay home and grow broccoli.


How do you propose to solve the pollution problem of 1 billion cars on the road, currently the largest single category of air pollution?

Gee, cars that don’t pollute might be a good idea.

Domestically produced fuel might have something to do with solving the energy security issues.

Cheaper transportation fuel is a benefit to every driver (current low gas prices won’t last).

What is broccoli in your analogy, Warren, riding a bicycle?

A billion cars of a ton or two each doesn’t work. I don’t care what they run on.

These discussions seem a bit like a room full of crack addicts talking about how they have found a vein on the bottoms of their feet, so its all good. 🙂

Sorry that particular drug is smoked not injected. Sheesh! Can’t even get your analogies correct.

Nope, Warren knows his narcotic drugs and how they are consumed. Not only is injecting crack relatively common today, but it has been done for decades.


Unless you dissolve it in vinegar or lemon juice. Doesn’t change the reality that we are addicted to a deadly system.

No more fuel, no more Infernal Explosive Engines.

Electricity rules! Cleaner and cleaner each year.

OK. Let’s assume we could quickly convert all electric production to wind and PV, without using up the remaining CO2 budget. Let’s assume that SolarCity, or whoever, doesn’t need to make a profit and we have free, endless, clean energy. I’d imagine the global economy would grow past 8% per year pretty quickly. How many years until we have mined/converted/consumed every remaining resource. Be careful what you wish for.

Staying home and growing broccoli is not an analogy. It is a survival strategy.

And I love broccoli so much that I’ll sure be a survivor!
Nevertheless, I get your point and totally agree with you about all those silly comment waiting for this electric mammoth SUV that will save the planet.
Yep, sure, it work as good as diet coke and watching TV on your health.
Cauliflower were 9$CA last week, probably switch to crack soon.

We choose to go to the moon because it’s easy, we choose to put falcon wing doors on the model X because it’s hard !

This story sounds similar to the 2-speed gearbox fiasco on the roadster.

So I just left a website where several people were saying that the Bolt couldn’t sell in large numbers because GM had outsourced the pack production whereas Tesla was going to rock the BEV world because of the Gigafactory.

Wait for it…

It isn’t like the X really NEEDS doors.

And your point is what?

Model X is not production constrained by capacity of new falcon door supplier.

Tesla just sold 50k BEVs in one year.

What is the GM record for selling BEVs in one year?

Tesla fanbois are criticizing GM for relying on LG to build the cells/packs of their electric vehicles, thereby allowing a potential bottleneck. And Tesla did the same thing with an entirely self inflicted own goal with the falcon doors.

Ziv, you are making no sense. Im not even going to explain. I am not a kindergarten teacher.

Ziv whinged:

“Tesla fanbois are criticizing GM for relying on LG to build the cells/packs of their electric vehicles, thereby allowing a potential bottleneck. And Tesla did the same thing with an entirely self inflicted own goal with the falcon doors.”

Critical thinking isn’t your forte, is it Ziv?

Tesla could, and did, solve the problem by switching to a different supplier for the doors. Contrariwise, since GM has designed the Bolt around the battery pack from LG Chem & LG Electronics. It’s gonna be a bit difficult for GM to switch suppliers, innit?


Fanboi 1 and Fanboi 2 reporting for duty! LOL!

I like Tesla a lot, but I am amused by the blind idolatry, though.

Most of the parts that make the Bolt a BEV, come from Korea. * Shurgs*. The rest of the car (frame, body, doors, headlamps, etc.,) are GM. It’s not a slam against GM or the Bolt– to speak the truth. You need the skills of both companies to produce this product. I don’t see synergy as a bad thing.

Honestly: The Bolt is actually MORE desirable to me, in that the “high tech” bits AREN’T made by GM. I trust LG far more with mission critical automotive electronics in a BEV.

Shurgs?! Anon, please refrain from using such vulgar slang in InsideEVs. I know you hate GM, but there is no need to use such lewd language to criticize them.



Just another way for Anon to bash GM.

Do you have a daily GM bashing quota to meet?

Believe it or N0t.,Some of the best built , most reliable cars are made in Korea..My friend purchased a same year Cheapy Korean Chevy car, as my $50,000 Mercedes.. & has had way less issues than I’ve had ..Meanwhile I’ve spent $$$ more than half , what he paid for his Korean Chevy, on my Mercedes so far, to Maintain & fix it to keep it going…THE PRICE OF PRESTIGE???..Guess what I’ll never buy again ??

I understood your point Ziv. Essentially all car companies use suppliers for various components, even critical components. Not always desirable, but this can end up with single-supplier issues.

So trying to raise concerns for just 1 car model due to outsourcing of parts doesn’t make much sense, since all car companies do this for all their cars.

Standard car parts can easily sourced from multiple external suppliers.

The falcon door mechanism is a very special part and it can not quickly be sourced from a different supplier. Tesla relies on the single point of failure supply. His point is 100% legit.

Did you honestly fail to grasp kdawg’s point when he said “…all car companies do this for all their cars”?

Nah, you’re just ignoring that so you can find an excuse for yet another Tesla-bashing FUD troll post.

However, GM would find it rather difficult to find an alternate source for the $145/kWh batteries it’s getting from LG Chem!

I’m sure you and the other trolls will ignore that point, too.

I don’t think this is what he mean.
I agree that falcon door on X and retractable door handle on the S are just useless fashion that look for trouble.
So the self inflicted blow.
It wasn’t worth it to have those, so It wasn’t worth it designing it.
Especially, if your goal is to save the planet, simple solution have their merit.

Tesla fanboiz are like the COS’s Squirrel Busters.

Blind idolatry is ok, though… after all, the car does drive itself.

But the car also crashes itself in AutoPilot mode.

Removing the driver from the loop is a positive? Maybe if you want to ride in a autonomous taxi rather than drive your own car.

go go Tesla

GO TESLA GO…failed German supplier can kiss your arse

As an inexperienced auto company, Tesla shouldn’t reinvent every piece of the car. I’d be more impressed by old reliable conventional doors. These doors add uneccessary complexity and cost while compromising the roof structure and rigidity. They will be expensive to repair – and they WILL need repairs – and they will probably develop leaks.

All for what? In a tight space the driver is still stuck in the car! D’oh!

I love armchair engineers.

Armchair engineering? More like common sense. To build a complex AND reliable mechanism is far more difficult than to build a simple and reliable mechanism. If you think otherwise then please share your reasoning.

A luxury for sure, but actually damn useful for those of us with small kids.

I don’t think @Jacked Beanstalk has actually seen the Falcon Doors in operation. More FUD that they won’t work in confined spaces.

I think his point is that even after the wonderful and spectacular Falcon door has been raised in a tight space, the human inside still has to figure out how to get out!

Depending of his circumference… 😉

Um, no. His point is that regardless of how well the falcon wings do at opening in tight spaces, the driver still has to enter and exit thru the front, non-falcon-wing door.

(Yeah, yeah, I know… perhaps if he’s limber, he can climb into the back seat. But that rather defeats the intended purpose of the falcon-wing doors: making it easy to get in and out.)

What I find really amusing about the supposed superiority of the falcon-wing doors is that Tesla recently enabled an Autopark/Summon feature, which would let everybody — including the driver — exit the car before it drives itself into a tight parking space… making the falcon-wing doors rather superfluous. (Yeah, okay… it’s still easier to get a child seat in and out. But then, so do minivan sliding doors.)

He is referring to the fact that the driver doesn’t have a falcon-wing door, and therefore even if the rear passengers can get out in such a tight space, he/she can’t!

Having said that, with young kids myself, I know that it is easier for me to sneak out of my car in a tight space with conventional doors than it is for my kids, so having doors that open up out of the way with no possibility of door dings is nice.

But a pricey luxury that my family won’t be able to afford any time in the foreseeable future. I’ll continue to guide the door for my kid and use my hand to control the opening – quite a bit cheaper 😉

I agree with Jack that the doors are likely to be less reliable than a regular door. I’m hoping that for this reason (and cost), they don’t make an appearance on the Model-3 SUV we would like to buy to replace our gasmobile Forester.

Sorry if I wasn’t clear, but I didn’t mean the falcon wings won’t work in confined spaces. The problem is that if one is in a confined space, the rear passengers can egress no problem, but then what about those in the front seats?

good heavens, people talk as if Model X owners will all of the sudden be parking in extremely tight spaces because of their rear doors… this is a horrible assumption for a $80,000+ vehicle… i can assure you that they will still be parking in places where they don’t have to worry about people door-dinging THEM, not squeezing into tighter spots than normal… the doors simply provide utility when loading and unloading the rear passenger compartment

My thoughts exactly. Most people I know tend to park farther away from other vehicles when they get a brand new vehicle. I would think it would be even more so if the vehicle costs $80,000+.

The article says: “During the Tesla Model X’s much-delayed history, the finger was often pointed towards the innovative, and complex operation of the falcon wing doors… “As it turns out… some of those times, it was the doors.” I doubt most people who follow the Tesla “story” will be surprised. However, Elon has also said the second-row seats proved more problematic than the falcon wing doors. As I’ve said before: There may well have been some delays due to problems getting some of the hi-tech geegaws in the Model X to work. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that most of the approx. two year delay was due to such problems. Tesla has had an ongoing problem with production being constrained by battery supply. Panasonic has not ramped up battery production as fast as Tesla needed, to grow as fast as it can. Many have suggested that Tesla may have intentionally delayed putting the Model X into production, since the Model S has been in production long enough to reduce initial costs, and with a limited battery supply, Tesla almost certainly makes a higher profit margin off the “S” than they do on a new car like the “X”. Or to… Read more »

So – it WAS the doors which confirms all the tea leaf readings I did last year on the topic of delays.

As well as further exposing ‘superior german engineering’ as the big myth that it is.

Given that Tesla itself couldn’t design the door, I wouldn’t run with that argument.

Why not? What we have here is a German company bidding a job that turned out to be beyond their ‘superior’ engineering capability.

Tesla farming the job out is hardly a knock on them.

Uh oh, Jay fixed the story … it wasn’t a German company after all. So now we better disparage the Swiss:

The Swiss? Those silly yodelers can’t make doors! They should stick to cocoa, watches, and army knives! 😉

Yeah, Swiss – take THAT! 😉

So Tesla didn’t have a working production prototype of the falcon wing doors until at least May? That’s a failure of project management. The supplier should have been chosen based in the quality of the prototype–here the supplier was chosen early based on other factors. Tesla is relying heavily on their suppliers for innovation, but losing their bets.

Give me an X with standard doors and door handles please.

You may have to wait for the baby M III CUV…

The best news here is that they found a different supplier, who seems to be ramping up smoothly, keeping pace with Tesla’s increased Model X production. Also, the many early in traffic videos of the ill fitting doors might have been this now ex suppliers failed doors.

I wonder if they ever considered just putting three shorter standard doors on each side, one for each row. Seems like that would provide good access and be very very simple. And it would be compatible with the existing roof-rack systems from Thule and Yakima.

I agree that the falcon wings render roof racks unusable and for me to carry two 17 foot kayaks would require a trailer with the Model X if I can’t put them on the roof.

With the Model S, you can use a roof rack with the Pano roof, but still have to create your own front and rear tie-down hooks to carry kayaks.

I shudder to think what the hit to driving range would be with either model carrying a load on the roof.

So Tesla didn’t do the “heavy lifting” in designing the doors then.

Just another subcontracted job like what GM did with its Bolt batteries..

The Hoerbiger Holding is actually a Swiss company, not a German one…

Right the doors where hard, but let’s get over it now. The X is there, its a great car and the 3 is now underway, so everything if fine. Cool down on this, it is just over inflated when it shouldn’t be. In fact at contrary, Tesla had a problem with a supplier and they found a fix with another one rather pretty fast, which is in itself quiet impressive.

I’m curious as to how the current design of the falcon wing doors from the current supplier compares to what Tesla put together for the first concept.

I believe the design was the responsibility of the supplier , to design/build a door mechanism that would function. However I may be wrong…

This lawsuit is a complete admission that the falcon-wing doors have been a disaster the delayed the Model X.

I hope Tesla learned something from this adventure in going too complex.


I think Elon Musk does realize that Tesla went too far in making the Model X more complex than necessary. Fortune magazine’s website (link below) quotes him as saying:

“There’s far more there than is really necessary to sell a car. Some of these things are so difficult; they do make the car better, but the difficulty of engineering those parts is so high, that in retrospect, if we had known the true engineering costs and the amount of complexity associated with it I think we would have probably done fewer new things.”

Now, whether that lesson will translate to an actual change of behavior at Tesla, whether it will lead to the KISS principle being applied… remains to be seen.

We can hope it will.


During the launch of the Founders series he did mention that they went a bit too far. I just hope they learned their lesson.

They didn’t seem to learn the lesson from the 2-speed transmission.

They’ve got a great product with the drivetrain alone. If they can add some simple clever things . . . fine. But when your door handles don’t open, your car door puts you a year behind schedule, and your huge glass windshield requires extra engineering . . . you are going too far!

The Model 3 has to be a VERY different car. Make it look nice . . . but none of this extra-complex whiz-bang gimmickry.