Recapping Tesla’s Solar Gigafactory Struggles: Can the Buffalo Plant Deliver?

It’s been five years since SolarCity first declared plans to become a solar manufacturer, and nearly three years since Musk unveiled the solar roof as part of his public relations bid to buy SolarCity.

With plenty of promises to make Buffalo a solar manufacturing hub, New York State offered Tesla $750 million to build out its operations. But as the years dragged on, it became clear that Tesla didn't have much of a plan.

Tesla promised it would pump out thousands of solar roofs per week by now, but the company has quietly struggled to build out any meaningful production. Customers are angry.

It’s been five years since SolarCity first declared plans to become a solar manufacturer, and nearly three years since Musk unveiled the solar roof as part of his public relations bid to buy SolarCity.

With plenty of promises to make Buffalo a solar manufacturing hub, New York State offered Tesla $750 million to build out its operations. But as the years dragged on, it became clear that Tesla didn't have much of a plan.

Tesla promised it would pump out thousands of solar roofs per week by now, but the company has quietly struggled to build out any meaningful production. Customers are angry. Buffalo locals and New York politicians feel burned. Some employees are jaded. So what do we make of the Gigafactory 2 debacle? 

This week on The Interchange, we're joined by Austin Carr, a reporter at Bloomberg who’s been covering the Tesla solar story deeply. 

We’ll look at the history of SolarCity/Tesla’s manufacturing plans, the derailed plans for the solar roof, and how current manufacturing activity compares with Tesla’s promises to New York.

Read Austin’s reporting on Tesla’s solar business:

  • Bloomberg: Did Elon Musk Forget About Buffalo?
  • Fast Company: The Real Story Behind Tesla’s Acquisition of SolarCity

And GTM coverage of Tesla's solar evolution:

  • GTM: Tesla Embraces New Solar Strategy But Analysts Remain Skeptical
  • GTM: Elon Musk’s Latest Plan for the Solar Market — Rentals

Support for this podcast comes from PG&E. Did you know that 20 percent of EV drivers in the U.S. are in PG&E’s service area in Northern California? PG&E is helping to electrify corporate fleet vehicles. Get in touch with PG&E’s EV specialists to find out how you can take your transportation fleet electric.

The Interchange is brought to you by Uplight, the company you once knew as Tendril and Simple Energy.

The goal is still the same: to offer utility leaders a suite of engagement solutions that deliver customer experiences like Amazon and Netflix. Learn more about how Uplight is building an end-to-end product for utility customer engagement.

 

Enclosures

  1. ^ (greentechmedia.com)

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