Elon Musk revealed on Friday afternoon details of the latest version of Tesla's Solar Glass Roof, and announced that the installations have started and should increase over the coming weeks. This third iteration of the power generating house topper will be cheaper, easier and faster to install than its predecessors, Musk said in a public question and answer session. That makes it a viable candidate for the kind of scale that the CEO of Tesla tends to target, reaching thousands of homes a week in a few months. "It will grow like seaweed on steroids," he said. And with enough growth, it can revive Tesla's stubborn attempt to not only be a carmaker, but an energy company.
Instead of installing solar panels on an existing roof (a service Tesla also provides), this product is the roof. It is made of glass tiles that can turn photons into electricity. From the ground, the tiles are meant to be separated from opaque slate, suggesting concern for a trade-off between helping the environment and damaging the eyes. Musk showed off the first version of the product in 201
For years, Musk has said that the solar roof and Powerwall (basically a large battery that allows the owners to store energy produced by solar energy, instead of sending it to the grid) are important to the company's quest to accelerate its use of clean energy. But in the three years since it began to make reservations about the sunroof, Tesla has struggled with the product, delayed its launch and won relatively few installations. The second version, Musk said Friday, was so expensive to produce and install that Tesla "initially tried not to lose money." The edges, especially where the tiles met gutters, were "very workable" and often completed in the workplace, making for a complicated and time-consuming installation. In the second quarter of this year, Tesla installed only 29 megawatts of solar power – far from the quarterly height of 200.
Version 3.0, he said, uses larger tiles and different materials (no more detail there), cutting the number of parts and subassemblies by more than half. . Work was reduced as Tesla focused its resources on producing its Model 3 sedan, but now that production is steady – and profitable – it has turned its attention back to the ceiling.
Musk's solo ambitions have been plagued by more than delays. The roof started as a partnership with Solar City, which Tesla bought in 2016 for $ 2.6 billion. Since then, the business has lost market share, and Tesla shareholders have sued Tesla for overpaying for the company – of which Musk was chairman of the board and the biggest stakeholder – given financial problems. It also faces a case from Walmart for breach of contract and gross negligence, after solar panels that Tesla installed at seven Walmart stores allegedly caught fire.
However, despite the fact that Musk moved Friday to replace past and present concerns with great promises for the future. He is aiming for an eight-hour installation time, though he said it takes a crew to put down a single conventional roof. He promises a price similar to a standard roof too. "We're coming after you, shingles," he said. Tesla plans to start with internal crews doing installations, and to start collaborating with other companies once it has nailed their processes. The tiles will be built at Tesla's Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo.