Tesla has been promising a ramp-up of production for its highly anticipated solar roof tiles this year, but now CEO Elon Musk says that volume production is delayed to next year.
The company started taking orders with a $1,000 deposit for the first versions of its solar roof tiles in May 2017. The product was sold out “well into 2018” within the first few weeks.
But at the time, the company planned to start volume production during the summer of 2017.
It was delayed to summer 2018 and so far, we have only heard about a few installations in California. We reported on some of those early installations.
Most of them were installed at the homes of employees and a few installations went to customers.
Earlier this year, Musk commented on the rollout of the solar roof – saying that it is now installed at ‘several hundred locations’, but Tesla later sent us a clarification saying that “several hundred homes with Solar Roof” includes not only homes with solar roof installed but also with their installation scheduled.
Now Musk says that volume production is only going to start next year:
“I want to mention the Solar Roof. We also start getting into volume production of the Solar Roof next year.”
The CEO admitted that it is taking a long time.
He added during the conference call for Tesla’s third quarter financial results yesterday:
“That’s quite a long development cycle because it’s a roof, it’s going to last 30 years. So even if we do accelerate life testing as fast as possible, there is still a minimum amount of time required to do that and there is a lot of engineering that goes into how you put on the solar roof with and not be really labor intensive and things so.”
In short, they are still validating the lifecycle of the product and trying to make it less labor-intensive to install in order to be able to scale production.
Tesla is nonetheless installing a few more solar roofs.
Last week, Javier Verdura, Tesla’s Director of Product Design, revealed that he got his own roof done:
Solar Roof: ✔️ ready to harvest all that free, clean energy to power our lives 🌞 pic.twitter.com/YIysN3oyPD
— Javier Verdura (@JVerdura) October 19, 2018
He said that only “about 35%” of the roof’s tiles have solar cells and that it should be able to generate “~53kWh per day.”
Tesla says that the “typical homeowner can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot for a Solar Roof.”
It’s a fairly expensive product, but it comes with a lifetime of the house warranty and 30-year power generation guaranteed. After the electricity production, Tesla estimates that its solar roof will be cheaper than a non-solar tile roof of similar style or virtually pay for itself through electricity savings.
At this point, solar roof tiles have been delayed significantly and it’s disappointing.
I completely get that validating the product for a lifetime warranty is important and I prefer for them to delay the rollout than to deliver a subpar product, but it feels like they launched it with a timeline that was too aggressive.
Of course, that’s not exactly unusual for Tesla.
We will keep an eye out on the rollout in the coming months and see if we can detect a production ramp.
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