It’s official: Panasonic and Tesla have finalized a joint partnership to develop solar cells. According to the two technology firms, Panasonic will invest $256 million in a Tesla production facility in Buffalo, NY. Below are four facts you should know about the deal.
Next-generation acceleration for EVs
The agreement builds upon a multi-year collaboration between Panasonic and Tesla to develop next-generation automotive-grade battery cells and accelerate the market expansion of electric vehicles. Panasonic’s cells combined with Tesla’s proven EV battery expertise have already enabled more than 130 million customer miles driven in Tesla Roadsters and Model S.
Panasonic will also be joining Tesla’s solar R&D team acquired through the SolarCity merger and based in Fremont, CA. They will work “on developing PV next generation technology.”
Road to the future
The electric carmaker plans to use Panasonic solar cells and modules for a panel that will work with Tesla’s batteries for homes, buildings, and the power grid. Panasonic will exclusively supply batteries for Tesla’s first-mass market car, the upcoming Model 3. It also creates batteries for Tesla’s Model S and Model X.
As Tesla prepared to acquire solar company SolarCity in October, the car manufacturer seemed to be considering making a similar deal with Panasonic for solar technology. The deal was contingent on Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, and could indicate SolarCity’s limitation in terms of mass production of solar cells. In a joint statement , the companies said they’ll begin production of solar modules in the summer of 2017. They plan to increase one gigawatt of module production by 2019.
Spreading the wealth
New York State is spending $750 million to build the Buffalo factory, which will be leased to SolarCity for $1 a year. Photovoltaic module production is scheduled to begin in summer 2017. Tesla said it reaffirmed SolarCity’s commitment to hire more than 1,400 people in Buffalo, including more than 500 factory workers. After the announcement on December 27th, shares of Tesla rose 2.9% and closed at $219.53.
As part of the new agreement, Panasonic will be covering required capital costs in Buffalo and Tesla has agreed to a long-term purchase agreement commitment.
By Nicole DiGiose