Considering Tesla’s recent Model 3 handover party, it’s not all that surprising that the focus of Wednesday’s earnings call was production for the company’s first mass-market sedan.
But it was also the first earnings report since Tesla started accepting orders in May for its new solar roof — and Tesla was relatively hush about the new product.
A Tesla representative said the solar roof was sold out until well into 2018, but they declined to provide exact order numbers.
Tesla is selling the solar roof tiles and traditional solar panels after acquiring SolarCity in November as part of a $US2.1 billion deal. The new roof has been successfully installed on employees’ homes, Tesla said on the earnings call.
Here’s what we know about Tesla’s solar roof:
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Tesla will eventually offer four types of shingles to match different housing aesthetics in an effort to get homeowners to ditch clunky solar-panel add-ons for a beautiful roof. Only two shingles are available now, but the others will be up for grabs in 2018.
... so you can't really tell that the roof has solar cells. That's the crux of Tesla's solar-roof vision: to create something both aesthetically appealing and efficient.
Tesla says the typical homeowner will pay $21.85 per square foot for the solar roof. For a 3,000-square-foot home, that would amount to about $65,000. Customers must place a $1,000 deposit to order the solar roof.
Musk originally said the solar roof would most likely cost less than a traditional roof, even before factoring in the price of electricity. But the company backpedaled slightly on that promise.
'It's looking quite promising that a solar roof will actually cost less than a normal roof before you even take the value of electricity into account,' Musk said in October.
The solar roof will most likely be more expensive than a normal one, but owners can expect savings on their electric bill -- not to mention a roof that lasts much longer.
Tesla's smooth-glass tile, the second tile available for order, is meant to offer a more modern look.
Unlike the textured-glass tile, the smooth-glass tile seen here was designed so you could see the solar cells from certain angles.
'From the vantage point of the street or anywhere near the house it looks completely opaque, but to the sun it's transparent,' Musk said.
Musk has been emphasising the importance of competing on an aesthetic level when it comes to the new solar product.
'When you have this done, you will have the best-looking house in the neighbourhood,' Musk said on Wednesday. 'I think the aesthetics are really that good.'
In October, Musk seemed most excited about Tesla's French slate tile, saying it was 'one of the hardest things to do.' The option, however, won't be available for order until 2018.
'My roof is a French slate roof -- that's one of the tile styles I wanted to do,' Musk said in October. 'And we were able to get that. Super hard.'
Musk has said that each French slate tile was made using a process known as hydrographic colouring, which uses water to apply printed designs.
'The production process itself makes each tile especially unique,' Musk said at last year's unveiling. 'It's sort of a special-snowflake tile.'
A brand-new Tesla glass-tech division is overseeing the hydrographic process, which uses techniques from the automotive-glass business.
Lastly, Tesla's Tuscan glass tile. The roof shown at the event wasn't exclusively made up of that tile. Instead, only the darker tiles seen here come with the solar cells. Like the French slate tile, the Tuscan option won't be available until 2018.
Deliveries and installations of the textured-glass and smooth-glass tile options will begin in the US before the end of 2017, Tesla has said. Installations will begin in 2018 for customers in other countries, like the United Kingdom and Australia.
The solar-roof tiles are durable. In fact, you can walk on the tiles the same way you would on regular asphalt shingles, Musk has said.
Musk said in October that the solar-glass tiles could incorporate heating elements to clear snow while generating energy. He said it wouldn't be energy-intensive to melt the snow, but 'strongly net positive.'
Tesla and Panasonic will produce the solar cells for the tiles at a plant in Buffalo, New York, at the end of the year.
Tesla said in May that installations would begin in the US at the end of the year.