Walmart Sues Tesla Over Solar Cells That Allegedly Sparked Fires -- Update
By Patrick Thomas
Walmart Inc. is suing Tesla Inc., alleging that some of the
company's solar panels sparked roof fires at several of the
retailer's locations, adding to the problems the electric-car maker
has had with its venture to power homes and stores.
In a suit filed in New York state court on Tuesday, Walmart said
that as of last November, Tesla's solar panels were responsible for
at least seven fires. The retailer is demanding Tesla remove the
roof-mounted panels from more than 240 Walmart locations and cover
Walmart, the world's largest retailer, alleges the fires
destroyed significant amounts of store merchandise and that
buildings required substantial repairs, costing hundreds of
thousands of dollars.
Tesla didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some of the problems with the panels stemmed from a "rushed"
approach to the system's installation, Walmart said in its filing,
and that individuals sent by Tesla to inspect the panels lacked
basic solar training and knowledge.
"Walmart's inspectors observed negligent and dangerous wire
connection practices, which were readily apparent at many of the
sites visited and are a critical risk factor in contributing to
fires," the retailer alleges in its suit.
Walmart said it began using solar panels made by SolarCity,
which Tesla acquired in 2016, in 2010.
Walmart had no comment beyond the suit. Tesla didn't immediately
respond to request for comment. Shares of Tesla were off about 1.4%
during aftermarket trading.
After acquiring SolarCity, Tesla began selling and leasing solar
panels in Tesla showrooms, with the leases extending 10 to 20
Later, Tesla began promoting sales as opposed to leases. Once
the top U.S. residential solar installer, Tesla ranked No. 3 in the
first quarter, with a 6.3% share, according to Wood Mackenzie, a
firm that tracks renewable-energy projects.
The company this week said it was offering to rent solar panels
to homeowners in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts,
New Jersey and New Mexico.
Last month, Tesla told analysts on an earnings call it was
optimistic for its future in solar, saying its "energy products
business will grow."
Write to Patrick Thomas at Patrick.Thomas@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 20, 2019 20:05 ET (00:05 GMT)
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