Retail giant Walmart is suing Elon Musk’s electric vehicle and energy company Tesla, saying solar panels supplied by the company apparently caused fires at seven of its stores.
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The fires damaged large amounts of store merchandise and required extensive repairs, according to Reuters, ending in hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket losses.
According to the court filing, Walmart representatives said the fires and subsequent damage is a breach of contract, “arising from years of gross negligence and failure to live up to industry standards by Tesla with respect to solar panels that Tesla designed, installed, and promised to operate and maintain safely on the roofs of hundreds of Walmart stores.”
Walmart started using solar panels, made by Tesla-owned SolarCity, on the roofs of some of their stores in 2010 — including in Maryland and Ohio — and had around 240 in total of its stores fitted with the panels. The retailer is now asking Tesla to remove those panels.
This is the second major issue Musk's company has had with fires this year. This past spring, the electric carmaker rolled out software updates on the Model S and Model X vehicles, following reports that a parked car caught fire in Hong Kong with a similar incident in occurring in Shanghai. On the heels of a heavily seen viral video of the second fire, Tesla conducted an investigation and later posted a statement on its Weibo social site in China that said the fires were not from a result of a systemic flaw in its vehicles A team of investigators analyzed the battery, vehicle history, software and manufacturing data and came to the conclusion that the fire was caused by a single battery module at the front of the vehicle.
Tesla’s stock dropped more than 1 percent after hours.