Musk defends SolarCity merger: $500M cash to Tesla, strength of $1B raised

Tesla presented more financial information related to its pending acquisition of SolarCity to investors late Tuesday after the closing bell. Details were revealed through a comprehensive blog post published on the company’s site. Here are some of the the important points covered.

  • SolarCity is expected to add more than a $500 million in cash to Tesla’s balance sheet over the next 3 years.
  • SolarCity has transitioned to a cash or purchase finance model instead of a leasing model. This allows the company to bring more money in the door upfront rather than waiting for lease payments to come in over 20 years.
  • SolarCity has arranged for nearly $1 billion in financing for its business in 2016 alone.
  • Solar City currently does business in less than half of all states. Tesla is a global company with a much greater marketing territory.
  • Combining the companies will create efficiencies that create cost savings of nearly $150 million a year.

During the question and answer session with analysts Tuesday afternoon, Elon has several interesting things to say. He prodded the doubters by saying that those who have been predicting a bad outcome for Tesla Motors have been wrong 100% of the time so far. He said their “batting average is zero” and asked why anyone would pay attention to people with such a dismal track record.

Referring to the fact that SolarCity already has a customer base of 300,000 installed solar systems, Musk asked people to consider the significant upsell opportunities that base represents. He joked that what people often see as counterintuitive turns out to be perfectly logical once they fully understand the concept. How is it possible that the same people can be against something one moment and then claim it to be the obvious solution the next, he mused?

For instance, he pointed out that there are more than 150 million roofs in the North American market alone. That means there is an enormous business opportunity for the solar roof products unveiled last week. Musk seemed baffled that more people don’t grasp the size of the market and the profit potential it offers.

Talking further about the solar roof, Elon downplayed its cost, saying the glass for the solar tiles cost next to nothing to manufacture. “Glass is basically sand,” he said. Even the micro-louvers that give the tiles their distinctive appearance when viewed from below are made of plastic. Very tough plastic, to be sure, but only slightly more expensive than glass.

To him, it seems obvious that people will clamor for the solar roof product. Others have tried to make a solar roof before, but Elon asked coyly if anyone had ever seen one that was attractive. He said none of them were appealing enough to go on his own house and wondered aloud why no one had come with a solar roof product before that is as attractive as the Tesla offering.

Finally, Musk was asked, if the SolarCity merger was not approved, would Tesla offer solar products from other companies in its stores? He scoffed at the idea. Would Apple offer cell phones from Samsung and other manufacturers in its stores? He seemed to think the idea was preposterous.

Elon is clearly committed to the merger with SolarCity. He even considers it pretty much a no brainer. Despite that, Tesla stock has dropped considerably this week after a temporary pop in the stock following the solar roof reveal. The company stock is trading -1.31% after hours following today’s announcement.

If you’re considering solar for your home or business, we encourage you to get a solar cost estimate first, based on your monthly utility bill and location. The service is being provided by an affiliate partner and fan to Teslarati.

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