Did you know that Tesla manufactures a Solar Roof? If you did not, there is no sense feeling too out of the loop, because product development and production is still in the works. We did manage to get an update about Tesla’s solar roof tiles at this year’s shareholder meeting, and it sounds as though the product may soon reach volume production with some impressive improvements.
Some Production Delays
Back in 2016, Tesla made the controversial purchase of the solar panel manufacturing company SolarCity for $2.6 billion, and shortly afterward they began working on their Solar Roof project. When details on the Solar Roof tiles were initially released, Tesla stated that they would begin volume production and installation in 2018.
It does not appear that things have quite gone according to plan, however. According to company financial disclosures, installations of Tesla’s Solar Roofs declined by 36 percent in overall sales during the first quarter of 2019, and more than 76 percent since the acquisition. As a result, Tesla was forced to gut its solar sales team. A retail partnership with Home Depot for their Solar Roofs was also ended, leaving customers only able to purchase Tesla’s solar products online. Thanks to those issues, Solar Roofs have not been installed other than at the homes of some Tesla executives and a few select customers, while volume production has still not been reached.
The latest shareholder’s meeting makes it sound as though Tesla is ready to dust off its long-neglected Solar Roofs and bring them back into the spotlight, though.
Tesla’s Solar Roof
Some of the reasons behind the delay had to do with product development, said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. It was important to him that changes were made which allowed the product to last 30 years or more. It sounds like the company is now in the process of completing its third version of the Tesla Solar Roof. “We are about to complete version 3 of the solar roof. This is actually quite a hard technology problem to have an integrated solar cell with a roof tile, have it look good, and last for 30 years,” he said.
While Tesla initially had problems doing accelerated testing on their roofing product, they now seem to feel more confident in its ability to withstand the elements while providing reliable solar power. The roof is expected to come with a lifetime of the house warranty and a 30-year guarantee of power generation.
The company also recently released news that it will produce custom fittings for their roofs. “Custom designed flashings and ridgecaps fit around your home’s unique design and roof pitch while accentuating the Solar Roof tiles and ensuring maximum weather-proofing. The end result is a roof that looks better and lasts longer,” said Musk in a document obtained by Electrek.
Musk boasts that the Tesla Solar Roof will be as affordable as a standard composite shingle roof. “I am very excited about version 3 of Solar Roof. We have a shot at being equal to a comp shingle roof plus someone’s utility cost or being lower than that. That’s one of the cheapest roofs available. So you can have a great roof with better economics than a normal fairly cheap roof and your utility bill,” said Musk at the shareholder meeting.
These days, a shingle roof can cost as little as $4 a square foot, while standard tiles run about $20 a square foot. Last year, Tesla’s solar tiles cost about $21.85 a square foot. While the ongoing electricity savings will obviously have an impact on Musk’s predicted pricing, we should expect to see Tesla’s price drop even more if it is to reach the reduced cost that Musk is flaunting.