There is news about Gigafactory 2 — Tesla’s solar factory near Buffalo, New York. First, Tesla has informed the Empire State Development Corporation, which owns the factory building and much of the equipment inside, that it has met the requirement to hire 1,450 workers by the end of April. In fact, it says 1,500 people are now working there, according to Channel 2 WGRZ News.
Empire State Development chairman Howard Zemsky issued a statement on February 25 that said, “Tesla informed us that they have not only met, but exceeded their next hiring commitment in Buffalo. As of today, Tesla said they have more than 1,500 jobs in Buffalo and more than 300 others across New York State. ESD will perform the necessary due diligence to verify the company’s data.”
That’s the good news. Also in the news is an announcement by Panasonic that it is quitting the solar cell manufacturing business in North America and vacating the part of the Gigafactory 2 building it has occupied since 2017. According to Buffalo Business First, Panasonic will cease production on May 30 and lay off 403 workers. Zemsky addressed that news in his statement.
“This count [of Tesla employees] does not include the Panasonic positions and — while their operations were co-located at RiverBend — there was no incentive package between the state and Panasonic. We understand that Panasonic has made a corporate decision to move away from global solar products, but this action has no bearing on Tesla’s current operations nor its commitment to Buffalo and New York State, according to Tesla.” According to Nikkei Asian News, Tesla and Panasonic expect to continue manufacturing battery cells at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.
Tesla says it intends to hire as many former Panasonic employees as possible at the Buffalo factory. Tesla also manufacturers charging equipment for its Supercharger network at the Gigafactory 2 facility.
Here’s the third piece of news from Buffalo: Channel 2 WGRZ News also reports that Tesla has moved hundreds of pallets and pieces of equipment out of the RiverBend building in recent weeks and is storing them at the nearby Wheatfield Business Park. Sources say the company has leased about 60,000 square feet of space there to store the pallets and equipment. Tesla has kept mum about what is being moved, and why and the manager of the business park declined to provide Channel 2 with any details.
Elon Musk says he plans to deliver a “company talk” at the Buffalo facility in April, at which time we expect to learn much more about Tesla’s plans to manufacture its Solar Roof there, including when and where the new technology will be available and how much it will cost. For now, the rumors that Gigafactory 2 is an unloved stepchild in the Tesla organization appear to be incorrect. We should know much more about Tesla’s plans for Buffalo factory next month.
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