Tesla Gigafactory 2, a factory in Buffalo that Tesla took over after the acquisition of SolarCity, is about to start production of the company new solar roof tiles.
Like at Gigafactory 1 for battery production in Nevada, Tesla partnered with Panasonic to produce the cells and now the company is looking to hire as many as 300 workers as it is about to start production.
In Nevada, Panasonic produces the battery cells, which Tesla then installs in battery modules and battery pack.
Under a similar arrangement at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, Panasonic will produce the solar cells, which Tesla will then install in its glass solar tiles and modules.
Tesla already started low volume production at its pilot plant in Fremont using cells imported from Panasonic, but now they are preparing to move to volume production in Buffalo.
In preparation for the start of production, the Japanese electronic giant is starting to hold job fairs to build its local workforce. The Buffalo News reports:
“Panasonic has scheduled three job fairs, including one Tuesday night at the Seneca Babcock Community Center on the East Side, to recruit workers for the 300 jobs that it plans to fill at the Tesla factory.”
After taking over SolarCity last year, Tesla confirmed the manufacturing deal with Panasonic, which in turn, announced a $250 million investment in the $950 million factory to install production equipment and hire workers.
That was in December 2016, but the project was already late at that point. Tesla has since been guiding a start of production at the plant by the end of the summer 2017.
The production ramp up has become especially important since Tesla sold out roughly a year worth of installations within the first few weeks of starting to take orders and revealing the pricing information back in May. Tesla’s new solar roof tiles are going to be highly competitive, but only in markets where houses already have strong valuations and where electricity rates are high. The market is big enough that it apparently already created a backlog.
Any delay in production would push installations for new orders even further down the road, but it now looks like Panasonic is preparing to start its solar cell production and that’s the first step to build Tesla’s solar roof tiles.