Tesla Solar Roof: New Time Frame for Ramp-Up

Via Inverse, an interesting report on the timing of Tesla’s solar roof:

Tesla’s solar roof could take a while to come to your home. During the company’s first quarter 2019 earnings call Wednesday, CEO Elon Musk explained that the company will move slowly with manufacturing the energy-harvesting tiles to ensure the design will last for decades.

“We are looking forward to scaling that up significantly through the balance of this year and next,” Musk told investors.

This is a slight shift from previous comments. While the tiles have only received a handful of public installations starting early 2018, Tesla stated in its previous quarterly letter in January that “we plan to ramp up the production of Solar Roof […] during 2019.” Musk declared in March that 2019 would be the “year of the Solar Roof.” The CEO clarified on Monday that it expects to “spool up production of the solar tile roof significantly later this year.” Musk’s latest comments suggest this ramp up could extend into 2020.

Musk has stressed before that manufacturing is tricky to outline. When he announced the $35,000 Model 3 electric car, he explained that while production started in March it won’t reach volume until the middle of the year, adding that it’s “extremely difficult to predict middle part of manufacturing S-curve.” This difficulty led to Tesla severely missing its original Model 3 manufacturing targets, where it expected to produce 2,000 cars per week in December 2017 but only produced around one-tenth of that.

The issue with the roof is ensuring that it will last for as long as expected. The solar tiles cost $42 per square foot, plus $11 per square foot. The recommended mix of 35 percent solar to non-solar means it costs around $21.85 per square foot for a roof. They’re a serious investment designed to replace a roof, and they’re built to last, using a tempered glass material three times stronger than slate or asphalt.

The Tesla Solar Roof.

The Tesla Solar Roof.

“That necessarily takes a while to scale up because we have to be confident that the Solar Roof is going to last for on the order of 30 years, and because the warranty is to 20, 25 years,” Musk explained. “The rate at which you can iterate on Solar Roof is necessarily slowed down according to the rate which you can do accelerated aging on the roof, and we want the installation process to be simple and easy. I was just actually at the Tesla Buffalo factory a few weeks ago and I was pretty impressed with the team.”

Musk confirmed in the call that “we are on version 3 of the design.” This design, which Musk also mentioned on Monday at Tesla’s autonomy investor day, may be linked to improvements mentioned in the company’s January earnings letter. The firm said it would continue installations at a slow pace to “gather further learnings from our design changes” and “about the viability of our installation processes by implementing them in areas around the U.S. that are experiencing inclement weather.”

For the sake of ensuring the product is ready for houses beyond California and other favorable climates, Tesla could benefit from a delay. Roberto Rodriguez Labastida, senior research analyst for Navigant, told Inverse in December 2018that “their [Tesla’s] solar shingles are an interesting product but I don’t see why they will sweat to release them as this is a niche market with little to no competition.”

It’s been nearly three years since Musk demonstrated the vertically-integrated home of the future, with a Model 3 in the garage charging off a Powerwall topped up with Solar Roof energy. Although the rollout has been slow, Tesla may be about to finally bring its tiles to a broader market.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019 at 5:38 am and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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About This Blog And Its Author
As potential uses for building and parking lot roofspace continue to grow, unique opportunities to understand and profit from this trend will emerge. Roof Options is committed to tracking the evolving uses of roof estate – spanning solar power, rainwater harvesting, wind power, gardens & farms, “cooling” sites, advertising, apiculture, and telecom transmission platforms – to help unlock the nascent, complex, and expanding roofspace asset class.

Educated at Yale University (Bachelor of Arts - History) and Harvard (Master in Public Policy - International Development), Monty Simus has held a lifelong interest in environmental and conservation issues, primarily as they relate to freshwater scarcity, renewable energy, and national park policy. Working from a water-scarce base in Las Vegas with his wife and son, he is the founder of Water Politics, an organization dedicated to the identification and analysis of geopolitical water issues arising from the world’s growing and vast water deficits, and is also a co-founder of SmartMarkets, an eco-preneurial venture that applies web 2.0 technology and online social networking innovations to motivate energy & water conservation. He previously worked for an independent power producer in Central Asia; co-authored an article appearing in the Summer 2010 issue of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, titled: “The Water Ethic: The Inexorable Birth Of A Certain Alienable Right”; and authored an article appearing in the inaugural issue of Johns Hopkins University's Global Water Magazine in July 2010 titled: “H2Own: The Water Ethic and an Equitable Market for the Exchange of Individual Water Efficiency Credits.”