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OSAKA/PALO ALTO -- Tesla and Panasonic are scrapping their partnership in producing solar cells after years of struggling to ramp up output at the Gigafactory 2 in upstate New York.
The companies intend to continue working together on automotive batteries for Tesla's electric vehicles. But the latest decision poses yet another setback in their strained relationship, which had once been considered a key component to Panasonic's turnaround.
Tesla and Panasonic announced their joint venture on solar cells in 2016. The Japanese company shouldered costs for part of the equipment at the Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, which began producing core components for solar panels in 2017. Panasonic-made solar cells were also supposed to be used for Tesla's solar panels.
Called the Solar Roof, the Tesla product is designed to look like regular black roof tiles. But Panasonic-made cells are believed to have failed to achieve this look while also maintaining the efficiency and cost sought by the U.S. company.
The latest version of the Solar Roof launched last fall uses Chinese cells. Meanwhile, Panasonic has been selling cells it produced at the Gigafactory to Japanese homebuilders and other clients.
It seems Tesla has exceeded its commitment to hire the number of employees it needed to in Buffalo.
According to this NY state official, this is due to Panasonic abandoning its global solar products.
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