Does Tesla make solar glass roof tile in its Buffalo, New York factory? Or in China?


According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s numerous testimonials, it seems pretty clear that the solar roof is being built in Buffalo.

But pv magazine has found evidence that the solar roof tile is coming from China, not Buffalo.

Bullish on building in Buffalo

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been bullish about solar roof production in Tesla’s factory in Buffalo, New York.

In October of last year, Musk said, “Tesla expects to be producing about 1,000 solar roofs per week in Buffalo within a few months,” adding, “We will grow this exponentially. It might be doubling this every month.”

“This is all going to be produced at the Giga New York, our factory in Buffalo, where people have been working really hard. And I’d just like to say it, our appreciation for the team there. They’ve really been putting in a pretty huge effort to ramp-up production of the solar glass roof.”

“We’ll definitely make New York proud about that factory,” Musk said during that conference call. “It’s going to be great.”

“We’re ramping up as fast as we possibly can, starting in the next few weeks,” Musk said, at the time, adding, “It’s really primarily just for the solar glass roof. That’s what our Buffalo factory will focus on.”

But the box says Changzou

pv magazine has been hunting down these innovative and beautiful integrated solar roofs and documenting the progress of these installations. Here’s our most recent photo gallery of solar roof installs.

However, while photographing day 6 of this roof installation in Northern California:

We noticed these boxes full of solar glass roof tiles:

And the labels read:

Based on that label, one might conclude that these boxes of solar roof tiles were coming from Changzou Almaden Co. on Qinglong East Road in Changzou, Jiangzhou, China — 7,135 miles from Buffalo, New York.

A recent Wall Street Journal article called Changzhou Almaden “a supplier of solar glass to Tesla” with a stock price that “has more than doubled in the past month.”

There’s nothing wrong with building product in China. It usually makes economic sense.

But that doesn’t explain Musk’s insistence that the product is ramping-up in Buffalo. Perhaps some of the glass tile is built in Buffalo and assembled in China.

We’ve reached out to Alan Cooper, Director of Global Communications and Ignoring Press Inquiries at Tesla, as well as other Tesla press contacts for information on where these tiles are built. We have not yet received a response.

The Buffalo News noted, “Tesla and its [former?] partner, Panasonic, employ around 800 people in Buffalo, but that work force needs to nearly double to 1,460 by mid-April or Tesla could be hit with a $41.3 million penalty by the state, which spent $750 million in taxpayer funds to build, and partially equip, the factory.”

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