Tesla is back in the news and once again it doesn’t look good. Retail giant Walmart filed a lawsuit more than 100 pages long, with pages of detailed explanations of Tesla's alleged installation problems of solar panels at seven of their storefronts. Under its contract with Walmart, Tesla is obligated to do regular maintenance on the solar panels. But Walmart claims Tesla failed to properly hire, train, and supervise the contractors doing installation and maintenance work for Tesla.
"Local news photographs and videos of the store showed a tremendous plume of black smoke emerging from flames as firefighters arrived at the scene," Walmart says in its lawsuit.
Walmart says that Tesla's own inspections revealed "a total of 157 action items requiring repairs or replacement of system components, 48 of which Tesla itself characterized as reflecting conditions that rendered the sites unsafe or potentially unsafe." Walmart's own follow-up inspections turned up even more problems, the big-box chain claims.
Walmart's investigation "revealed 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," Walmart charges.
"Despite months of back-and-forth with Walmart, Tesla has yet to pay one cent of the out-of-pocket damages and consulting/inspection fees that Walmart incurred as a result of the fires at Denton, Indio, and Yuba City, as well as consultant and attorneys' fees related to the Beavercreek fire," Walmart cites in its complaint.
Tesla's solar-energy unit was acquired by the company in 2016. The unit, SolarCity, had previously made deals with Walmart for solar projects as early as 2010. Walmart had more than 200 solar projects by 2014, according to company press releases, and has as many as 240 today, according to the lawsuit.
Tesla has yet to issue a comment regarding the lawsuit.