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Tesla, Panasonic team up to build solar cells

The two companies jointly operate a battery factory in Reno, Nev.

By Ed Adamczyk
Tesla, Panasonic team up to build solar cells
Tesla Motors and Panasonic Corp. announced plans to produce photovoltaic cells and modules in a Buffalo, N.Y., plant owned by SolarCity Corp., pending Tesla's purchase of SolarCity. Photo courtesy of SolarCity/Twitter

PALO ALTO, Calif., Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Tesla Motors and Panasonic Corp. announced an agreement to produce photovoltaic cells and modules in a new plant in Buffalo, N.Y.

The deal is contingent of Tesla's acquisition of SolarCity Corp., a California-based designer of solar power systems currently constructing the Buffalo plant. Tesla, manufacturers of electric-powered automobiles, plans to use the cells and modules in a solar energy system with Powerwall and Powerpack, Tesla cars' energy storage products. Production in Buffalo is expected to begin in 2017.

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Tesla and Panasonic signed a non-binding letter of intent, a statement issued Sunday said. The two companies are already collaborating on making electric vehicle and grid storage battery cells in a Reno, Nev., factory known as the Gigafactory, which employs 1,000 people.

"We are excited to expand our partnership with Panasonic as we move towards a combined Tesla and SolarCity. By working together on solar, we will be able to accelerate production of high-efficiency, extremely reliable solar cells and modules at the best cost." JB Straubel, Tesla chief technical officer, said in a statement.

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