Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors and its longstanding battery partner- Japan’s Panasonic Corp have further strengthened their ties. Presently, Panasonic is also the exclusive supplier of batteries to Tesla's Model S and Model X.
According to Tesla’s announcement on Tuesday, Panasonic will invest more than 30 billion yen ($256 million) to manufacture solar cells and modules in SolarCity’s Buffalo, New York, manufacturing facility, aims to start production in the summer of 2017 and increase to one gigawatt of module production by 2019.
Elon Musk of Tesla (Image Source: SolarPv)
The new investment will deepen the partnership of the two companies and brings higher-efficiency solar panels to SolarCity and Tesla.
SolarCity announced the acquisition of Silevo, a solar technology start-up in 2014 that brought high-efficiency solar panels in a plant in Buffalo, New York.
Subsequently, Tesla, as part of the acquisition of SolarCity in summer 2016, announced plans to bring in Panasonic to make solar cells using technology similar to Silevo’s. Panasonic's technology uses a thin amorphous silicon layer to the cell to increase efficiency.
Recently, Tesla has announced its plans of solar rooftop tiles venture, and the partnership with Panasonic will provide the advance higher-efficiency cells and panels which generate more power into each rooftop solar installation.
Tesla reaffirms SolarCity's commitment to generate over 1,400 jobs in Buffalo-including more than 500 manufacturing jobs. Panasonic, with its technological and manufacturing expertise in PV production, will also work with Tesla on developing PV next generation technology at SolarCity's facility in Fremont, CA, says Panasonic press release.
Tesla is making a long-term purchase commitment from Panasonic as part of the deal, besides providing factory buildings and infrastructure.