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Tesla sued in U.K. in fight over charging stations

Andrea Gerlin
Bloomberg News

Tesla Motors Inc., the carmaker led by billionaire Elon Musk, was sued in London in a dispute over whether the company interfered with a competitor’s plan to rollout electric-car chargers at U.K. highway rest stops.

Judge Vivien Rose ordered Palo Alto, California-based Tesla Wednesday to search for documents about internal meetings and discussions with other companies about setting up its own network of chargers for its electric cars, which start at about 50,000 pounds ($74,450) in the U.K. Ecotricity Group Ltd. says Tesla negotiated with companies including Tesco Plc after the smaller firm had already held talks.

“There do seem to have been meetings in October 2014” with motorway service providers, Rose said. “Something more is needed to be absolutely sure that there’s nothing more.”

The lawsuit reflects the jostling among carmakers and charging network providers seeking a share of the developing market for electric vehicles and the infrastructure to serve them. Tesla, which is spending billions of dollars on the world’s largest battery factory, has identified the European market as important to its growth.

Ecotricity says in its suit that Tesla used its confidential information and tried to induce highway rest stop companies such as Welcome Break Group Ltd. to breach agreements with Ecotricity for exclusive charging points last year as Tesla introduced the Model S in the U.K.

Officials at Tesla in the U.K. and Germany didn’t immediately respond to requests to comment on the lawsuit.

Tesla countersued Ecotricity and accused the U.K. renewable-energy supplier of acting abusively in its dominant position as a supplier. Tesla denied in court documents that it misused any confidential information Ecotricity gave it or that it tried to induce companies to break contracts with Ecotricity.

Rose declined to force Tesla to search for documents containing certain search terms and initials that Ecotricity had specified or to produce records of telephone calls with Welcome Break, which Ecotricity was seeking.