Tesla's Solar Factory Exports 'Great Majority' Of Solar Cells

Tesla's trumpeted solar shingles are a flop

Tesla's trumpeted solar shingles are a flop

The overwhelming majority of the solar cells produced at the facility are now being sold overseas rather than being used in Tesla's "Solar Roof" photovoltaic product, according to a Reuters report on Wednesday, citing a letter to USA customs officials from Panasonic, Tesla's partner on the plant.

Originally, the solar cells from the Buffalo factory were intended for the "Solar Roof" solution that Tesla is offering.

Most of the solar cells made at Tesla's solar factory in Buffalo, New York, are being exported instead of being installed on US homes as originally planned, as Tesla continues to struggle on the American solar market, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing sources at the factory and documents it has reviewed. He had been the chairman of SolarCity and is a cousin of the cofounders, Peter and Lyndon Rive, both of whom have since left.

Panasonic had said in a filing with the U.S. Department of Commerce in October 2018 that foreign demand for U.S. -made solar cells had sprung up after the Trump Administration imposed tariffs on overseas-made panels in 2018.

Panasonic produces the solar panels at the Buffalo plant for Tesla, but Reuters said it has been selling many of them to other buyers since previous year due to low demand from the California automaker.

Since Tesla purchased SolarCity in the fourth quarter of 2016, installations have dropped more than 76 percent, according to company financial disclosures. Panasonic is Tesla's sole battery supplier for its electric auto business, but Musk last month blamed Panasonic for EV production delays. Tesla also struck a deal to buy custom solar cells for its products from Panasonic, which in turn agreed to invested $250 million into the gigafactory and set up its own production line there.

Tesla is "diversifying its presence in Buffalo", a company spokesperson said. But it still appears likely to fall short of the almost 1,500 employees required by 2020, which would trigger financial penalties and has already prompted sharp criticisms of the deal by some state legislators.

Tesla's manufacturing partner, Panasonic Corp, has about 400 employees at the Buffalo plant. While Panasonic has been making Solar Roof cells, Tesla "took issue with their aesthetics and cost" and had turned to a Chinese supplier as well, Bloomberg reported, citing several sources.

The company disclosed the move in an annual report to NY state in which it said it had exceeded its jobs and investment commitments thus far. "Panasonic is now the largest producer and employer at RiverBend with a customer base independent of Tesla".

"Everybody wants Tesla to succeed", the employee said, "but we are operating completely independently from them right now".

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