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Tesla announces start of ‘solar roof tile’ production within next two months

Tesla released its first quarter 2017 financial results and shareholders letter today. In the letter, the company gave an update on its plans for Model 3 production and Solar Roof tiles production.

The company says that it plans to start the ” pilot manufacturing” of the first types of tiles during the current quarter (within two months) at their Fremont facility and move to volume production at Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo “shortly” thereafter.

That’s on schedule or even a little ahead of schedule, which will be reassuring for those who have reserved a place in line for the new solar roof products.

It also contradicts the recent speculation that Tesla was delaying the launch of some of its solar roof tiles.

The company wrote in its shareholders letter:

“We plan to start pilot manufacturing of Solar Roof tiles in Q2 at our Fremont facility.  Shortly thereafter, production will transition to Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York.  Our partner, Panasonic, will provide capital and operational support to manufacture photovoltaic (PV) cells, thus enabling high volume integrated tile and PV cell production at a single facility.”

The “Fremont facility” is not Tesla’s Fremont Factory, but a former Solyndra production plant that SolarCity bought before being acquired by Tesla. They have been conducting low to mid volume production of solar panels at the plant and they will apparently move to solar roof tiles.

But the real volume production is expected to be at the Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, where Panasonic is currently investing $250 million in manufacturing PV cells for both Tesla’s solar roof tiles and an exclusive solar panel.

As for how they plan to sell those solar products, Jamie reported in details about Tesla’s planned expansion of its retail and service network, which is mainly about the upcoming launch of the Model 3, but the company will also be using the network to sell its solar products.

They said that – after a test program to sell SolarCity’s services in Tesla stores – they now plan to staff over 70 stores:

“We are working towards fully staffing more than 70 Tesla stores in the U.S. and abroad with dedicated Tesla energy sales people over the next two quarters.”

Tesla is expected to also open online orders for the solar roof tiles shortly. We expect to hear more about that during the conference call with management today. We will report back with any update.

You can visit Tesla’s website if you wish to take your place in line for when they become available, but solar and energy storage prices are highly dependent on your market (electricity cost, gov incentives, etc.) and your property. We suggest to get quotes from more than one installer to make sure you get the best energy solution for your place. UnderstandSolar is a great free service to link you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates for free.

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