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Amazon says Tesla solar panels caught fire atop one of its warehouses

Amazon fulfillment center in San Bernardino
The site of an Amazon fulfillment center in San Bernardino.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Walmart Inc. isn’t the only corporation that has seen its Tesla Inc. solar panels catch fire.

On Friday, Amazon.com Inc. said a June 2018 blaze on the roof of one of its warehouses in Redlands involved a solar panel system that Tesla’s SolarCity division had installed. The Seattle-based retail giant said by email that it has since taken steps to protect its facilities and has no plans to install more Tesla systems.

News of the Amazon fire comes just three days after Walmart filed a bombshell lawsuit against Tesla, accusing it of shoddy panel installations that led to fires at more than half a dozen stores. The claims threaten to further erode Tesla’s solar business at a time when the company is fighting to gain back market share.

More widely known for its electric cars, Tesla bought panel installer SolarCity three years ago in a $2-billion deal that proved highly controversial. SolarCity’s chief executive at the time is the cousin of Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

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In the complaint filed Tuesday, Walmart said it had leased or licensed roof space at more than 240 stores to Tesla’s energy unit. Two of the Walmart fires occurred in May 2018. In a joint statement Friday, Walmart and Telsa said they are working on a resolution.

Amazon said it has a very small number of solar systems installed by Tesla.

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment but said earlier Friday that it had discovered flaws in a part that the company had used in some of its systems. The part known as a “connector,” manufactured by Amphenol Corp., led to “failures and disconnections at a higher rate than our standards allow,” Tesla said in an emailed statement. The company has worked to replace it.

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Amphenol did not respond to a request for comment.

Hull and Day write for Bloomberg.


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