Tesla: N.Y. solar factory to make EV chargers, other products

Tesla's trumpeted solar shingles are a flop

Exclusive: Tesla's solar factory is exporting most of its cells – document

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.

Tesla reported Wednesday that it has exceeded its 2019 jobs target for NY state, with 632 full-time and four part-time jobs through the end of April - more than the 500 it was required to have.

Panasonic also produces traditional solar panels at the Buffalo plant for Tesla, but has been selling many of them to other buyers since at least a year ago due to low demand from the California vehicle company, Reuters reported in August 2018.

Tesla employs 329 workers at the factory while its partner, Panasonic Corp., has about 400 employees there, the report said.

Tesla inherited the factory, known as RiverBend, through its purchase of SolarCity, and is now required to deliver on investment and employment promises that SolarCity had made in exchange for $750 million in state subsidies.

By this time next year, it must employ 1,460 workers in the state, including 500 at the factory, according to Empire State Development, the state's economic development arm.

Panasonic's Canal said foreign solar panel manufacturers want the Buffalo plant's cells because solar panels assembled overseas with American-made cells can be shipped to the United States tariff-free, according to US trade rules implemented last fall. It was not immediately clear whether those jobs are included in the count toward meeting the state targets.

Soon after, Tesla unveiled the Solar Roof line, a marked shift from the business model of SolarCity, which primarily sold and installed rooftop solar panels produced by Chinese manufacturers. "In the coming weeks, ESD will perform the necessary due diligence to verify the data provided by Tesla".

Employment at the factory and Tesla's ability to meet its NY jobs target have been cause for much speculation as the company has weathered a bumpy year of layoffs and changes in its sales strategy for solar products.

Tesla planned to use them in its Solar Roof, a system meant to look like normal roof tiles.

That product was created to resemble rooftop shingles with solar cells embedded inside, an effort to differentiate the offering in the commodity solar panel business. Panasonic has also sought other customers for its Buffalo-made panels.

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

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