Tesla's Solar Roof Solution Isn't For the United States

A worker is seen outside the Tesla Inc. Gigafactory 2, which is also known as RiverBend, a joint venture with Panasonic to produce solar panels and roof tiles in Buffalo, New York, U.S., August 2, 2018. But the company must add hundreds more workers in NY to meet next year's target.

Tesla has only sporadically purchased solar cells produced by its partner Panasonic Corporation (OTC: PCRFY), Reuters said in the Wednesday story. The rest are going largely to foreign buyers, according to a Panasonic letter to U.S. Customs officials reviewed by Reuters. And just "a few" were installed in the Northeast, Reuters reported, citing an anonymous former employee. But a company official said in an email "the number of solar roofs you cite in the story is low and unrepresentative as we are actively installing the Solar Roof in eight states now".

Earlier this month, Tesla sold $2.3 billion of debt and stock to raise cash. He had been the chairman of SolarCity and is a cousin of the cofounders, Peter and Lyndon Rive, both of whom have since left. 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.

A Bloomberg article late past year said Tesla was operating just one production line at the Buffalo factory, rather than the multiple lines that were supposed to be running at that stage.

Tesla's solar sales slumped by 36 percent quarterly and by 38 percent annually in Q1 2019, according to the company's Q1 update.

Tesla's 2016 acquisition of SolarCity is looking worse and worse.

Last month, Tesla was said to be cutting the prices of its solar panels by as much as 38 percent below the national average in a bid to regain ground in the solar market. Panasonic is Tesla's sole battery supplier for its electric vehicle business, but Musk last month blamed Panasonic for EV production delays.

Tesla also said it has invested $381.9 million total in NY state as of April 30, including $179.3 million in the previous year.

"It is fully anticipated that the majority of the cells to be produced" in the FTZ "will be exported", the company said in its application. Panasonic manufactures solar cells and assembles panels at the factory for Tesla and others.

The piece also noted that Panasonic's production is distinct from Tesla, set up on the other side of the building, despite Tesla's portrayal of the deal as a close collaboration.

The subcontract also provided a way to help Tesla achieve hiring commitments required as part of the state's $750 million in subsidies.

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.

"We have two of the leading clean energy companies in the world in Buffalo at the RiverBend facility", Pamm Lent, spokeswoman for Empire State Development, said in a statement.

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