jjDesignLine International, the hybrid bus maker Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx recently joined as an in-house attorney, is being sued by a supplier of the batteries for the buses.

According to a legal notice in The Charlotte Business Journal, Altair Nanotechnologies, an lithium-ion cells maker based in Reno, filed suit in Mecklenburg County on Dec. 17th to collect on a 2008 DesignLine contract.

The company’s Q3 SEC filing explained:

In September 2008, we accepted a purchase order from DesignLine International USA (DLI) for the delivery of four complete battery module sets. These hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) battery packs were to be used in demonstration buses for three city transit customers, and one for a modular testing program. The DLI HEV bus operates in an electric-only mode for as much as 30 percent of its range and provides a 100 percent improvement in fuel economy over a diesel bus, with fuel savings of up to 6,000 gallons per year. Due to a number of problems related to components outside of the battery cells and a disagreement on payment terms, this program is currently on hold and no additional work is being done with this customer until the open issues are resolved.

A previous Altair filing from 2008 adds, “Any subsequent orders from DLI are expected to be for cells only, with DLI taking full responsibility for module and pack assembly.”

Evidently there is some dispute as to what that all means — and who is going to pay for it.

An October 2008 press release on the contract characterized it as a $540,000 deal.