Production will begin in the summer, with the factory’s output capacity expanding to 1 gigawatt by 2019, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. Panasonic will invest more than 30 billion yen (US$256 million) on the installation of production equipment, Yayoi Watanabe, a spokeswoman for the Osaka-based company, said by phone. The total investment was not disclosed in the statement.
The announcement underscores deepening ties between the two companies. They are jointly building a $5 billion lithium-ion gigafactory in Nevada to produce batteries for electric cars and energy storage products for homes and utilities. In October, Tesla revealed plans to work with Panasonic to make solar cells and modules for solar-roof installer SolarCity Corp. -- a company Tesla acquired last month for $2 billion.
“When production of the solar roof begins, Tesla will also incorporate Panasonic’s cells into the many kinds of solar glass tile roofs that Tesla will be manufacturing,” according to the statement. Tesla chairman Elon Musk revealed plans for solar roofs made of glass tiles in October.
Solar components from the Buffalo plant will also work seamlessly with Tesla’s energy storage devices such as Powerwall and Powerpack, the companies said.
By Chisaki Watanabe