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Amphenol says its products didn’t cause Tesla’s Walmart fire woes

SolarCity
SolarCity workers install solar panels on a roof in this undated photo. Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016.
(Associated Press)

Amphenol Corp., a maker of electrical connectors for multiple industries, rejected any suggestion that its products caused the solar-equipment fires on store roofs that prompted retail giant Walmart Inc. to sue Tesla Inc.’s energy business.

“We have no reason to believe that Amphenol’s products are the cause of any issues related to the claims filed by Walmart against Tesla,” Wallingford, Conn.-based Amphenol said in a statement Sunday. “We stand behind the quality of our products, including the H4 solar connector which was manufactured to meet established industry specifications, and certified to meet those specifications by UL, an independent third-party testing service.”

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, sued Tesla last week, accusing it of shoddy solar panel installations that led to fires at seven stores. Walmart’s complaint didn’t mention Amphenol by name, but it said that Tesla had “negligently installed and maintained connectors” and that some had been “cross-matched,” meaning incompatible connectors had been used together.

Amphenol’s name and the H4 connectors were brought into the mix after Business Insider contacted Tesla, which said there were a few problems found with equipment used by SolarCity, the panel-installing company Tesla acquired three years ago. Tesla said a “small number of these connectors experienced failures and disconnections at a higher rate than our standards allow,” putting the rate at less than 1% over the last year.

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“We are confident in the robust quality and performance of all of our products,” Amphenol said in the statement.

Business Insider reported Thursday that Tesla had launched an effort to replace a faulty connector in some of its solar panel systems through a program known internally as Project Titan. It was unclear whether issues with the connector affected any of the Walmart installations.

Walmart and Tesla issued a joint statement, also Thursday, saying they were in discussions to resolve their issues. The next day, Amazon.com Inc. said a 2018 fire at one of its warehouses was a Tesla/SolarCity installation.

More widely known for its electric cars, Tesla bought SolarCity in a $2-billion deal that generated controversy in part because SolarCity’s chief executive at the time was the cousin of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Musk was chairman of SolarCity’s board.


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