Tesla Decides to Axe Dozen or More "Solar City" Locations

Battle Between Elon Musk And Former Tesla Employee Turns Ugly

Tesla's recent staff reductions reportedly aligned with cuts to the solar division, according to a Reuters report.

Tripp has been accused of gaining access to data such as "dozens of confidential photographs and a video of Tesla's manufacturing system" and writing code to export Tesla's data to people outside of the company on an ongoing basis.

The locations to be closed include those in the high-volume markets of California, Maryland, Arizona, New Jersey and NY, as well as smaller and less promising markets such as CT, which is gutting its net metering regulations.

Last week, Tesla announced it would lay off 9 percent of its workforce in an effort to keep its doors open as it tries to ramp up production of its critical Model 3 electric auto.

"The closures are consistent with the operational cost reductions in Tesla's auto business", said Tammy Madsen, professor of strategic management at Santa Clara University.

"Last night, the structure outside our factory that houses the cardboard and other wood and paper products that are being recycled caught fire", the spokeswoman said, adding that no injuries were reported, and the company was investigating the cause. Tesla said it deployed 76 megawatts of solar systems during the quarter, or 62 percent less than what SolarCity was deploying in early 2016.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been quieter than usual on Twitter for the past day - maybe because he's too busy emailing a former employee he called out for "sabotage" and proceeded to sue for stealing trade secrets and data about the electric vehicle company.

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Tesla said it planned to prove exactly how much it deserved to receive in damages during the trial, but given the claims in Tesla's lawsuit, you can bet it's not peanuts. Two of Solar City's largest panel suppliers are based in China, although the company plans to open a new factory in Buffalo, New York to build its own panels.

Tesla has an agreement with NY state requiring the company to spend $5 billion within 10 years.

Even if Tesla's lawsuit doesn't go the way the company hopes, hard to believe the past few days won't make others think twice about crossing Musk in the future. The lawsuit alleged Tesla's board of directors breached its duties to shareholders by approving the merger. Home Depot told Reuters its pact would last through the end of 2018, so it's not an immediate withdrawal.

While stopping its partnership with Home Depot might come off as alarming, GTM Research analyst Austin Perea noted that the deal might have been discontinued as a means to reduce unnecessary expenses.

The total number of layoffs at Tesla's solar and battery business remain unclear. Tesla now suspects the employee's illegal behavior was as a form of retaliation for his reassignment.

"It's an expensive account", the former employee said, "but it does bring in all the revenue".

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