Tesla and Panasonic will cease joint solar cell production at GigaFabrik 2 in Buffalo
New York, 27.2.2020
Against the background of an already strained partnership, Tesla and Panasonic are ending their joint production of solar cells at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 plant in New York, according to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review.
Tesla and Panasonic established a joint venture there four years ago to manufacture solar cells. It was agreed that Panasonic would pay for part of the equipment at the Buffalo plant. They began producing components for solar photovoltaic systems in 2017.
While the solar cells manufactured by Panasonic were primarily to be used by Tesla to produce its own solar panels, Tesla instead used cells manufactured in China for its current solar roof product. According to Nikkei, Panasonic sold the cells manufactured at its Buffalo plant to other customers.
Panasonic remains the main supplier of battery cells to Tesla for the automotive battery pack. The two companies also own Gigafactory 1 outside Reno, Nevada. However, Tesla has also established links with battery cell manufacturers CATL in China and LG Chem in South Korea.
Tesla was under pressure to revive its solar business. Even with a record quarter for its solar power and storage systems business in 2019, Tesla’s energy sales declined by more than $24 million during the year, following several layoffs the previous year.
If Tesla did not employ 1,460 people at its Buffalo plant in April this year, it will be required to pay a $41.2 million fine to the state of New York or be exempted from it for reasons not yet known.
Tuesday night, an Empire State Development Group spokesperson tweeted that Tesla expects to exceed this benchmark target by the deadline, with 1,500 or more workers in Buffalo and 300 more across New York State.
Tesla’s CEO and product architect Elon Musk , is in the midst of a battle with the company’s shareholders, who have sued the electric car maker in 2017 over its $2.6 billion acquisition of SolarCity. Some shareholders say the deal should never have happened. It was a bailout for Musk and his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive, who had founded SolarCity. Musk was also co-founder and chairman and with one third of the shares the largest shareholder of SolarCity. He is expected to stand trial at the Chancery Court in Delaware in March.