(Adds details of Tesla-Panasonic plans)
Oct 17 Elon Musk's Tesla Motors said it
would collaborate with its longstanding battery partner, Japan's
Panasonic Corp, to manufacture solar cells and panels
at a New York factory.
The agreement, a non-binding letter of intent, is contingent
on shareholder approval of Tesla's acquisition of SolarCity Corp
, the electric car maker said in a statement issued late
on Sunday. Financial terms were not disclosed, but officials in
New York said production would take place at a factory SolarCity
is building in Buffalo.
Panasonic is expected to begin production at the Buffalo
facility in 2017 and Tesla intends to provide a long-term
purchase commitment for those cells.
Tesla said it will use the cells and modules in a solar
energy system that will work seamlessly with its energy storage
products Powerwall and Powerpack.
Tesla is acquiring SolarCity, in which Musk is also a large
shareholder and is run by his first cousins, as part of a
strategy to build a clean-energy consumer brand.
Last year, SolarCity said it would manufacture a new kind of
solar panel at the plant that would be the most efficient yet at
transforming sunlight into electricity.
SolarCity has pledged to spend $5 billion over 10 years on
its RiverBend factory in New York in return for $750 million in
tax breaks and other investments by the state. The state funding
is part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's pledge to spend $1
billion on economic development in the Buffalo region.
A Panasonic spokeswoman in Japan declined to offer details
on the collaboration. SolarCity and Tesla did not immediately
respond to queries sent to a SolarCity spokeswoman who said she
could direct questions to both companies.
Panasonic is already working with the U.S. automaker to
supply batteries for the Model 3, Tesla's first mass-market car.
Tesla and SolarCity Corp shareholders are scheduled
to vote on the proposed merger on Nov. 17, and the automaker
said it would provide plans for the combined company ahead of
(Reporting by Vishal Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil
Nair and Steve Orlofsky)