Tesla says solar factory will now make EV chargers and other products

FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen outside the Tesla Inc. Gigafactory 2, which is also known as RiverBend, a joint venture with Panasonic to produce solar panels and roof tiles in Buffalo, New York, U.S., August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/ File Photo

May 15, 2019

(Reuters) – Tesla Inc said on Wednesday its solar factory in Buffalo, New York, would become the “manufacturing home” for its electric vehicle Supercharger cabinets and other energy storage products as it seeks to meet employment targets tied to state subsidies linked to the facility.

The company disclosed the move in an annual report to New York state in which it said it had exceeded its jobs and investment commitments thus far.

Tesla employs 329 workers at the factory while its partner, Panasonic Corp, has about 400 employees there, the report said.

The electric vehicle maker has more than 300 employees elsewhere in the state, it said. The company was required to have at least 500 employees in the state by April 30 as part of its commitment to New York, which provided $750 million in subsidies for the facility.

Tesla’s plan to manufacture solar products in New York has come under scrutiny as the company has drastically scaled back the U.S. solar business it acquired in 2016 with the $2.6 billion purchase of SolarCity.

At the time, it planned to use the factory to make a trailblazing product called the Solar Roof, an energy system meant to look like normal roof tiles. But that product has been far slower to reach the market than promised.

“We’re committed to investing in Buffalo and the State, and the new power electronic lines will deliver more high tech jobs while supporting Tesla’s energy storage products and global Supercharging infrastructure,” Tesla said in an emailed statement.

Tesla will also open three new vehicle service centers in New York, the company said. A year from now, the company is required to employ 1,460 workers in the state.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by James Dalgleish and Tom Brown)

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