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Elon Musk announces ‘Solar Roof’ product, Tesla/SolarCity will go after the roof industry


Tesla CEO Elon Musk was on SolarCity’s conference call for its second quarter financial results today, which is unusual for the Chairman, but understandable considering the impending deal for Tesla to acquire the solar installer. During the call, Musk announced that SolarCity will unveil a “solar roof” as opposed to “solar modules on a roof”.

While Musk didn’t elaborate on the product itself, he made it clear that Tesla/SolarCity will go after the roof industry with its new products, rather than only installing solar modules on existing roofs.

Right after Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO,  referred to the upcoming unveiling of 2 new products before the end of the year, around the time Tesla and SolarCity are expected to close the merger (Q4 2016), Musk jumped in and said:

“It’s a solar roof, as opposed to modules on a roof.”

Rive then confirmed that they are working on a roof integrated product and Musk added:

“I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof. It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof.”

After recent comments, there were rumours that SolarCity would unveil a solar shingle kind of product (pictured above), but it’s not necessarily what Musk is talking about here, though a possibility.

The CEO explained that it will open up a new market for the company. Rive added that there are 5 million new roofs installed every year in the US and if your roof is about to need to be replaced, you don’t want to invest in solar panels to install on it since you are about to take it down, but if the solar panels are the roof and you need to redo it anyway, there’s no reason not to go with a power-generating roof. Musk sees a “huge” market for the roofs nearing their end of life.

Musk added that the new business plan will work alongside SolarCity’s current installations on existing roofs. It will not cannibalize the existing product.

Based on the comments from Musk and Rive’s announcement that two products will be unveiled by the end of the year, it looks like SolarCity is about to unveil 2 solar products, one for existing roofs and one integrated with the roof.

They plan to manufacture those modules at SolarCity’s upcoming 1 GW factory in Buffalo. Peter Rive, SolarCity’s CTO, said that the company now plans for the module assembly line to start producing in Q2 2017.

Earlier this month, we reported on SolarCity actually releasing the first picture of the solar module they plan to produce at the factory.

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