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Panasonic is ending its solar cell partnership with Tesla

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Panasonic has announced that it will stop producing solar cells and modules at its Tesla plant in Buffalo, New York and end a four-year joint venture with the automaker.

Nikkei Asian Review was the first to report that Panasonic plans to conclude its production agreement with Tesla. Panasonic has since released an announcement to explain its decision. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Panasonic has announced that it will stop producing solar energy at its Tesla plant in late May. The company will leave the plant in September.

Panasonic employs around 380 people in the factory. Employees receive allowances. Panasonic said it will work with Tesla to identify and hire qualified candidates for the employees concerned. Panasonic said in its announcement that Tesla plans to hire qualified candidates for the new positions needed to support its solar and power production operations in Buffalo.

Panasonic signed an agreement in 2016 to co-produce solar cells at Tesla’s “Gigafactory 2” factory in Buffalo, New York. Panasonic has promised to share the cost of the equipment needed at the factory. The joint venture deepened the relationship between the two companies, which had previously partnered to manufacture battery cells at the Tesla plant near Reno, Nevada.

Panasonic’s decision to leave the factory comes when Tesla tries to expand its energy operations and meet the employment requirements of a government-funded factory. The Buffalo plant was built with $ 750 million in public funds and subsequently leased to Tesla. Tesla is expected to employ 1,460 people by April or face a $ 41.2 million fine under an agreement with the state.

When Panasonic’s exit reports were circulating, Tesla informed Empire State Development, the New York City Economic Development Agency that oversees the factory, that it had exceeded its hiring commitments.

“Tesla informed us that they had not only hit their next shot in Buffalo but exceeded it. To date, Tesla has more than 1,500 jobs in Buffalo and more than 300 throughout New York, “said Howard Zemsky, president of Empire State Development, in a statement.

Panasonic’s decision to move away from global solar products is not related to Tesla’s current operations or commitment to Buffalo and the State of New York, according to Tesla, Zemsky said.

The development agency will review the company’s data, said Zemsky, who added that the count does not include Panasonic’s positions.

According to Zemsky, Panasonic has never received government incentives.

When Panasonic leaves New York, he is still working with Tesla in a joint venture to manufacture battery cells in a huge factory near Reno, Nevada. Panasonic said in a statement that the move “will not affect the strong partnership between Panasonic and Tesla in Nevada”. According to Panasonic, the two companies in the Tesla Gigafactory will continue to work on the battery of their electric vehicle.

In recent years, reports have indicated that Panasonic’s relationship with Tesla is strained. The acquisition of Tesla by Maxwell Technologies in February 2019 led to speculation that the automaker wanted to develop its own battery cells.

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