Tesla Motors Sues Machinery Maker Atlas Over Agreement

Tesla Motors Inc., the electric-car maker run by billionaire Elon Musk, sued machinery maker Atlas Technologies Inc. over whether a dispute about an agreement must be heard by an arbitrator.

Officials of Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, whose shares rose as much as 8.7 percent today after an analyst more than doubled her price target for the carmaker, contend Atlas executives are refusing to honor an agreement to “arbitrate a contractual dispute,” according to a court filing in Delaware.

Tesla officials asked a Delaware Chancery Court judge to bar Fenton, Michigan-based Atlas from “asserting that an agreement to arbitrate in Delaware was not made,” according to the July 16 filing. Atlas, a unit of Productivity Technologies Corp., makes equipment used in the car-production process, according to the company’s web site.

Shanna Hendriks, a Tesla spokeswoman, declined to comment today in an e-mail message. Jesse Levine, Atlas’s chief executive officer, didn’t immediately return a call for comment on the lawsuit today.

Tesla’s suit seeking to enforce the arbitration agreement was filed under seal in Wilmington, Delaware. Other filings in the case outlined the general nature of the suit.

The carmaker named for inventor Nikola Tesla has had the biggest share price gain this year among global automakers, with the company’s market value more than tripling this year through yesterday. Tesla has set a goal of delivering at least 21,000 of its electric Model S luxury sedans this year, priced from $69,900.

Quarterly Profit

Tesla’s shares have jumped after the carmaker reported its first quarterly profit and sales of its electric cars tripled this year. The company has increased production at its Fremont, California plant.

The Fremont facility is highly self-contained compared with most large auto plants. It stamps its own aluminum body panels and chassis parts, molds plastic components and dashboards and even die-casts individual metal components.

Atlas specializes in making “turnkey stamping and fabricating systems, heavy plate and bar-steel processing equipment, robotic integration and quick die-change equipment,” according to its website.

Tesla is asking a judge to name an arbitrator to hear the contract dispute and to order Atlas to submit to the process.

The case is Tesla Motors Inc. v. Atlas Technologies Inc., CA 8733, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.