Panasonic to end solar cell production at Tesla Facility in Buffalo

Zemsky: Tesla has exceeded hiring requirements

WBEN Newsroom
February 25, 2020 - 10:00 pm

Tesla Plant on South Park Avenue in South Buffalo. August 7, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - The Nikkei Asian Review reports Tesla and Panasonic will end their partnership in producing solar cells after years of struggling to ramp up output at the Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo. 

The move comes as a result of Panasonic ending all solar panel operations in the United States by the end of this year. Tesla will continue its operations inside the facility.

"We understand that Panasonic has made a corporate decision to move away from global solar products, but this action has no bearing on Tesla’s current operations nor its commitment to Buffalo," said Empire State Development Chairman Howard Zemsky in a statement.

Despite the decision to end the Panasonic partnership, the State says Tesla has met job creation requirements in place as a result of the public subsidies it received for building the Riverbend facility. 

"Tesla has not only met but exceeded its next hiring commitment in Buffalo."

According to the report in the Nikkei Asian Review, Panasonic-made solar cells are believed to have failed to achieve the desired look for Tesla's 'Solar Roof' look while also maintaining the efficiency and cost sought by the company.

“I met in my office this morning with representatives of Panasonic and was told that they will be ceasing North American solar production. While I’m disappointed by the Panasonic news, I am encouraged by the news from Tesla that they have now hired more than 1,500 employees," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in a statement. "I was told Panasonic workers will be employed until the end of May 2020 and that every employee will be paid severance according to their length of service with the company. Panasonic will also offer two on site job fairs with their employees in an effort to assist them with other opportunities.” 

Listen to the mayor's full comments below:

Tesla will be holding a company investor meeting at the Buffalo factory in April and may unveil new details about how to sustain the facility at that time.

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