Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would slap Tesla Inc. with a $41.2 million penalty if the company doesn't meet its job creation promises at its solar panel factory in Buffalo by next April.
But the governor said Wednesday that he has seen no indication Tesla will miss its next benchmark.
"They're ahead of schedule," Cuomo said during a stop in Buffalo to promote the state's budget deal.
The electric vehicle maker is ahead of its job promises at the RiverBend factory, where the 700 current employees between Tesla and Panasonic top Tesla's commitment to employ 500 people by April 2019. The state spent $750 million to build and partially equip the factory.
But that job commitment jumps to 1,460 people by April 2020 – roughly double the factory's current workforce at a time when Tesla's solar energy business is shrinking and the solar roof product it is counting on as the Buffalo factory's main product isn't expected to reach full production until late this year.
"A contract is a contract," Cuomo said.
"The way we structured this transaction, it's not a goal, and it's nice if you make it. ... It's a benchmark. If you don't make it, you pay us back," Cuomo said. "Right now, they're ahead of their goal."