Panasonic will pull 3,500 employees from its large Nevada plant, which is partnered with Tesla, amid concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The company said friday that it will reduce operations early next week and close for 14 days, a move that will affect only Panasonic employees. At the same workplace, Tesla employs thousands of workers at its Gigafactory 1 plant in Sparks, Nevada.
Tesla has not commented on the move. Gigafactory 1 broke ground in June 2014 and is a key element of Tesla’s goal of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy by expanding global battery capacity and reducing the cost of electric vehicles. As a supplier and partner of the project, Panasonic has been its most important partner.
In addition to Tesla’s energy storage products, Powerwall and Powerpack, the plant also produces Model 3 electric motors and battery packs. Panasonic makes batteries, which Tesla then uses to make battery packs for electric cars.
A Panasonic spokesman said the company is committed to the health and well-being of every employee, so The Panasonic plant in Sparks, Nevada, will begin reducing operations early next week and then closing for 14 days. Employees affected by the closure will continue to receive full pay and benefits for 14 days. At the same time, Panasonic has put in place several measures to improve the cleanliness of its facilities and to encourage employees to maintain a simple, safe and effective social distance from the outside world. During the 14-day period, the facilities in the workplace will be thoroughly cleaned.
Without Panasonic, Tesla could face supply chain bottlenecks. Tesla has agreed to suspend operations at its Fremont, California, plant, which is responsible for assembling model X, Model S, Model 3 and the newly released Model Y, starting March 23.