BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Tesla says it is "diversifying its presence in Buffalo"and investing in the Riverbend facility. The company says it keeps growing and is delivering on its promise to create hundreds of jobs. But it comes on the heels of a new Reuters report criticizing the company.
At Buffalo’s Tesla site solar cells are manufactured by Tesla's partner - Panasonic. Last year teals said those panels would be used for residential solar roofs. But Reuters reports a majority of solar cells are shipped overseas.
In an email response to 7 Eyewitness News, a Tesla spokesperson said the Tesla solar roof installation numbers reported by Reuters are "low" and "unrepresentative." Tesla says it’s actively installing solar roofs in eight states.
Meanwhile, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown remains confident in Tesla's production and hiring promises.
“I am hopeful that they will get it right - that production will be on track at the buffalo plant and the job numbers that were proposed will be met,” Brown remarked to reporters.
Riverbend was built as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Buffalo Billion investment. Tesla and Panasonic employ about 800-workers of the more than 1,400. Tesla says it has "exceeded" its first-year job commitments by more than 25-percent and tripled its investment for New York State.
“We’re pleased to have exceeded our first year job commitments by more than 25 percent and nearly tripled our investment requirement in New York State. In addition to scaling production of Solar Roof, Tesla is also diversifying its presence in Buffalo by manufacturing and assembling Supercharger and energy storage components at Gigafactory 2. We’re committed to investing in Buffalo and the State, and the new power electronic lines will deliver more high tech jobs while supporting Tesla’s energy storage products and global Supercharging infrastructure."
We also reached out to Panasonic Thursday and are awaiting comment.
Empire state development issued a statement saying they're pleased with Tesla's investments. The state agency will verify Tesla's job data in June when state labor department numbers are issued.
“Empire State Development is in receipt of Tesla’s Employment and Investment Report for RiverBend. We are pleased that Tesla is reporting that it has exceeded its job and investment commitments, invested $381 million over the course of the project, and become host to nearly 800 full-time employees working at the manufacturing facility. In the coming weeks, ESD will perform the necessary due diligence to verify the data provided by Tesla.”
Here are more questions we asked Tesla's spokesperson and received an email response Thursday:
- Could you verify/confirm current hiring numbers for Buffalo's Tesla? “Tesla and Panasonic currently combine for an approximate total headcount of 730 full-time jobs at the facility. There are also approximately 43 contingent workers, contractors and vendors employed at the facility. However, just a reminder that Tesla had a company-wide layoff in January which impacted ~50 positions in Buffalo.
- Your report says you've reached requirement for first year commitment. How many jobs was that? "Tesla reported 636 jobs in New York State which is about 25% above the commitment of 500 jobs in the state. This is only Tesla jobs – not Panasonic."
- How many total jobs from both Tesla & Panasonic will there be by 2020? "Per the current agreement, Tesla is required to have 1,460 jobs in Buffalo (with 500 manufacturing jobs) by April 2020."