Elon Musk on Friday afternoon revealed particulars of the newest model of Tesla’s Photo voltaic Glass Roof, asserting that installations have begun and will ramp up within the coming weeks. This third iteration of the electricity-generating house-topper will likely be cheaper, simpler, and sooner to put in than its predecessors, Musk mentioned in a public Q&A session. That makes it a viable candidate for the form of scale the Tesla CEO tends to focus on, reaching hundreds of properties per week in a number of months’ time. “It’ll develop like kelp on steroids,” he mentioned. And with sufficient development, it might revive Tesla’s stumbling try and be not only a carmaker, however an power firm.
Relatively than putting in photo voltaic panels on an present roof (a service Tesla additionally provides), this product is the roof. It’s made from glass tiles that may flip photons into electrical energy. From the bottom, the tiles are supposed to be indistinguishable from opaque slate, assuaging considerations a couple of trade-off between serving to the setting and hurting one’s eyes. Musk confirmed off the primary model of the product in 2016, and by no means disclosed the second model till Thursday. The most recent model comes with a 25-year guarantee and a promise that the glass can stand up to 110-mph winds and chunks of hail practically 2 inches in diameter.
For years, Musk has mentioned that the photo voltaic roof and Powerwall (mainly a giant battery that permits homeowners to retailer power produced by solar energy, as an alternative of sending it to the grid) are vital to the corporate’s quest to speed up the adoption of fresh power. However within the three years because it began taking reservations for the photo voltaic roof, Tesla has struggled with the product, delaying its launch and profitable comparatively few installations. The second model, Musk mentioned Friday, was so costly to supply and set up that Tesla was “mainly making an attempt to not lose cash.” The perimeters, particularly the place the tiles met gutters, have been “very artisanal” and infrequently accomplished on the work website, making for a sophisticated and time-consuming set up. Within the second quarter of this yr, Tesla put in simply 29 megawatts of solar energy—removed from its quarterly excessive of 200.
Model three.zero, he mentioned, makes use of larger tiles and totally different supplies (no extra element there), and cuts the variety of elements and subassemblies by greater than half. Work slowed whereas Tesla targeted its assets on producing its Mannequin three sedan, however now that manufacturing’s working easily—and profitably—it has swung its consideration again to the roof.
Musk’s photo voltaic ambitions have been troubled by greater than delays. The roof began as a partnership with Photo voltaic Metropolis, which Tesla acquired in 2016 for $2.6 billion. Since then, the enterprise has misplaced market share, and Tesla shareholders have filed a lawsuit alleging that Tesla overpaid for the corporate—of which Musk was chairman and the biggest stakeholder—given its monetary difficulties. It’s additionally going through a swimsuit from Walmart for breach of contract and gross negligence, after photo voltaic panels that Tesla put in on seven Walmart shops allegedly caught hearth.
True to type, although, Musk moved on Friday to supersede previous and present worries with large guarantees for the long run. He’s focusing on an eight-hour set up time, about what he mentioned it takes a crew to put down a easy standard roof. He guarantees a worth much like that of a regular roof, too. “We’re coming after you, comp shingle,” he mentioned. Tesla plans to start out with in-house crews doing installs, and to start out working with different corporations as soon as it has nailed down its processes. The tiles will likely be constructed at Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo.