Fronius opens new R&D center in U.S. with eye on Tesla partnership support

Fronius, the Austria-headquartered inverter specialist, has opened a new research and development (R&D) center in southern San Francisco as part of its strategic drive to expand its presence in the U.S. market.

The firm has had a presence in the U.S. since 2004 when it opened its Portage, Indiana HQ, but this latest expansion is part of its “ambitious growth plan” to channel the spirit of Silicon Valley and become a key player in “solar innovation and technology partnerships”, according to a statement issued by the company this week.

The facility will support local production of its inverters, and will also act as a regional sales hub for Fronius, which has been supplying Tesla Motors with its inverters and software solutions for the Powerwall home storage system.

Responding to a question from Bloomberg about the move, Fronius’s solar head Martin Hackl said that the company was “excited to support the M&A activity that help our key partners expand their reach.”

Tesla’s proposed merger with SolarCity has seen the firm sidle ever-more closely to the solar industry, with its founder Elon Musk stating on a conference call earlier this month that the company is exploring the possibility of producing an integrated inverter in-house.

“It’s the logical thing to do,” Musk said. “Most people don’t even know what an inverter is.”