The majority of solar cells produced by Panasonic at it’s New York manufacturing plant, shared with Tesla, are reportedly being shipped to the Philippines as Tesla’s solar energy projects appear to be completely stalled.
Reuters reports that Panasonic is shipping the majority of its solar cell produced at the New York manufacturing facility that the company shares with Tesla overseas. Now it has revealed that the buyer of these cells is H.R.D Singapore, one of the largest suppliers of panels to the Japanese exo-homebuilder Ichijo Co Ltd.
It was initially believed that Panasonic would sell the majority of its solar cells to Tesla for the company’s Solar Roof panel product, but as Tesla faces low demand for vehicles and implements a number of cost-cutting measures it seems that the firm is no longer interested in or able to purchase as many solar panels as previously expected.
It seems that H.R.D and Ichijo are taking advantage of a trade loophole which allows companies from outside of the U.S. to ship solar panels into America duty-free as long as the panels are made with U.S. manufactured cells. The demand for U.S. solar cells in other countries is surprising given that components for the cells are usually sourced cheaper in Asia and so few firms actually manufacture solar cells in America. But it seems that President Trump’s tariffs on solar imports are having a widespread effect on the market.
Panasonic and Tesla partnered in 2016 to manufacture solar cells and panels at a Buffalo, New York, facility when Tesla inherited the plant after purchasing SolarCity. At the time, the companies claimed that Tesla had made a long-term commitment to purchase the cells from Panasonic to use in its Solar Roof product. But so far, Tesla has only installed a handful of rooftops after a number of production line troubles and the firing of most of Tesla’s solar sales team, according to sources within the company.
Former employees have stated that production in the Buffalo plant is “just for show.” Bloomberg has reported that Tesla actually walled off idle areas of the factory, dubbed the “Gigafactory 2,” to keep members of the media from learning the truth about the factory’s lack of production.
Tesla stock is currently trading at $186.42 at the time of the writing of this article.