Tesla, which has been trying to relaunch its solar panel business, is now being sued by Walmart over allegations that the company’s solar panels caught fire on the rooftops of seven Walmart stores between 2012 and 2018.
In a court filing, Walmart alleges that Tesla engaged in “gross negligence.” Walmart said the solar panel fires caused damage to property and inventory.
“As of November 2018, no fewer than seven Walmart stores had experienced fires due to Tesla’s solar systems -- including the four fires described above and three others that had occurred earlier,” the complaint said.
Walmart claimed that the electric automaker and clean energy company “routinely deployed individuals to inspect the solar systems who lacked basic solar training and knowledge.”
The suit claims Tesla never provided Walmart with a “root cause” of the fires, but Walmart believes systemic deficiencies and broken parts likely contributed to the fires.
"Wires on the store's rooftop were still sparking at the time that Walmart discovered the fire and could have ignited more extensive flames, with potentially devastating consequences," the lawsuit claims. "Equally troubling, after Tesla technicians visited the rooftop, one of the technicians failed to close the cover to a combiner box, exposing this important piece of equipment to the elements and thereby creating a fire hazard.
Walmart is asking Tesla to remove the solar panels it had installed on more than 200 of its stores, as well as provide monetary relief for the damage caused by the fires.