Sunday, 20 October, 2019

Walmart Sues Tesla After Solar Panels Cause Fires

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Ginger Lawrence | 21 August, 2019, 16:54

Tesla did not immediately respond to an email.

"This is a breach of contract action arising from years of gross negligence and a failure to live up to industry standards by Tesla", Walmart said in court filings.

Walmart has sued Tesla, claiming it installed faulty solar panels that caught fire at seven Walmart locations - causing millions in damage.

The suit claims that Tesla failed to hire qualified workers to install the equipment, and its own inadequate inspections could have threatened the safety of Walmart customers and employees.

In recent years, Walmart (WMT) installed solar panels from Tesla Energy Operations on the more than 240 stores across the country.

Tesla is trying to spark its solar-panel business by letting consumers rent rooftop systems rather than buy them.

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A new lawsuit from the USA retail colossus demands damages from Tesla and the removal of solar panels across all store locations, amid claims that "systemic, widespread failures" by Tesla were the culprit of a series of rooftop blazes over the past decade.

Walmart's inspectors found that Tesla "had engaged in widespread, systemic negligence and had failed to abide by prudent industry practices in installing, operating and maintaining its solar systems", according to a breach-of-contract complaint filed Tuesday in NY state court. In the lawsuit, it asks for the court to require Tesla to remove all of its systems from Walmart stores, which are now all de-energized. Musk said the reason for cancelling the Home Depot deal was to "focus our efforts on selling solar power in Tesla stores and online". Walmart has now de-energized all its SolarCity rooftop installations, but one of the fires apparently occurred after being de-energized. As of August 15, Tesla "still had not taken any reasonable steps toward curing its breaches", the lawsuit said.

Electric vehicle maker Tesla bought residential solar installer SolarCity for $2.6 billion in 2016 but installations have plunged in recent quarters.

Tesla's stock dropped more than 1 percent after hours.

Three days later, on August 18, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk announced the re-launch of the company's solar business that allows customers to install solar panels without a long-term contract.