Panasonic invests $256M in Tesla’s solar production


Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic Corp. has announced that it will invest over 30 billion yen, roughly $256 million, in Tesla Motors Inc.’s solar cell production.

According to the two companies, Panasonic’s investment will allow Tesla to dramatically expand its manufacturing base in Buffalo, N.Y., adding more than 1,400 jobs to the area, including more than 500 manufacturing jobs.

The primary focus of the partnership between Panasonic and Tesla will be the production of high-efficiency photovoltaic solar cells, which will be used in solar roof tiles and other products. Tesla noted that all of the new solar products will work seamlessly with its Powerwall (above, with Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk) and Powerjack energy storage products.

“As part of the agreement, Panasonic will cover required capital costs in Buffalo and Tesla is making a long-term purchase commitment from Panasonic,” Tesla said in a statement. “The collaboration extends the established relationship between Tesla and Panasonic, which includes the production of electric vehicle and grid storage battery cells at the Tesla Gigafactory.”

The new factory will begin producing its first PV cells in the summer of 2017, and Tesla says that production will be scaled up to one gigawatt of module production by 2019.

Tesla and Panasonic have already been close partners for some time now. Panasonic has been the exclusive battery supplier for the Tesla Model S and Model X, and according to Reuters, the company will also supply batteries for Tesla’s first mass-market car, the Model 3, which enters production in mid-2017.

Tesla has been betting heavily on the future of solar energy. Earlier this year, the company paid $2.6 billion to acquire SolarCity Corp., a solar energy startup that had been co-founded by Musk.

Musk noted in a blog post in July that one of Tesla’s long-term goals is to “create a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works, empowering the individual as their own utility, and then scale that throughout the world.”

Image courtesy of Tesla Motors