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Panasonic Invests Millions In Tesla Plant For Solar Cells

By Andy Franco , Dec 27, 2016 07:35 PM EST
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Japanese electronics corporation Panasonic is investing more than 30 billion yen or $256 million in a production facility in Buffalo, New York owned by Tesla Motors. This is to fund the making of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules.

The two companies said they are seeking to start the production of PV modules in the summer of 2017 and then increase up to one gigawatt of module production by 2019.

The plan is to eventually integrate the PV cells and modules produced in the New York factory into the non-solar roof products and the solar glass tile roofs that are set to be produced by Tesla and SolarCity, Elon Musk's solar power systems for homes and businesses. Musk has promised that the roof tiles will be more efficient than any other solar systems.

Elon Musk even predicts that solar rooftops might surpass sales of his electric cars. He says that solar rooftops need to be as appealing as electric cars have become. Musk says, "The goal is to have solar roofs that look better than a normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation, and actually have a total cost that is less than the price of a normal roof plus electricity."

Tesla and Panasonic are also setting up to work on more advanced tech with significantly improved PV cells and panels. Research will be held at SolarCity's facility in Fremont, California.

Tesla also claimed that about 1,400 jobs will be created, with about 500 of those jobs are centered on manufacturing. Further expansions in Buffalo are also being planned.

Panasonic's move to shoulder massive costs only strengthens the partnership between the two companies. Panasonic has already been providing lithium-ion batteries for Tesla's Model S and Model X electric cars.With Tesla prepping up the production of its small and first mass-market Model 3 for 2017, Panasonic is also expected to be the American automaker's exclusive battery supplier.

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