Canadian Manufacturing

Tesla, Panasonic to collaborate on solar energy if SolarCity deal goes through

Two companies will extend partnership, work together on PV modules at Panasonic's New York plant if shareholders approve Solarcity deal, Tesla said



PHOTO: Alexis Georgeson/Tesla

Already partners on the electric vehicle maker’s Gigafactory, the new agreement could tie-up the strategic partnership between the two companies further. PHOTO: Alexis Georgeson/Tesla

TOKYO—U.S. electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. says it plans to start working with Japanese electronics company Panasonic Corp. on solar energy.

Panasonic had no immediate comment Oct. 17 on Tesla’s statement on its corporate blog that the companies have signed a non-binding letter of intent to begin collaborating on production of photovoltaic cells and modules at Panasonic’s facility in Buffalo, New York.

The deal requires shareholder approval of the electric vehicle maker’s planned acquisition of San Mateo, California-based solar-panel company SolarCity Corp.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla said the cells and modules would be used with its energy storage products. CEO Elon Musk says SolarCity’s installation network and the automaker’s global energy storage could provide customers a one-stop shop for sustainable energy and transportation. Shareholders are due to vote on the acquisition on Nov. 17.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with Panasonic as we move toward a combined Tesla and SolarCity. By working together on solar, we will be able to accelerate production of high-efficiency, extremely reliable solar cells and modules at the best cost,” said JB Straubel, the electric vehicle maker’s chief technical officer.

Tesla intends to provide a long-term purchase commitment for those cells from Panasonic, according to the company.

The collaboration extends the partnership between Tesla and Panasonic, which includes the production of electric vehicle and grid storage battery cells at the American company’s Gigafactory.

Panasonic is a major manufacturer of home appliances, such as washing machines, refrigerators, TVs and microwaves, but its operations also encompass services and products for businesses, including health care and security camera systems.

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