Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed the company’s plans to begin taking customer orders for its newest Solar Roof product beginning in April. The announcement came through a flurry of tweets sent early Friday morning while the serial tech entrepreneur and SpaceX chief was on his way to Cape Canaveral, Florida, perhaps to inspect the mysterious ‘Optimus Prime’ robot that was recently spotted.
Tesla unveiled four distinct photovoltaic shingles at a launch event held at Universal Studios in Los Angeles last October. The product billed simply as Tesla Solar Roof are glass tiles embedded with photovoltaic cells but camouflaged as traditional roof tiles. The tiles are designed to replace the arguably less appealing and bulky traditional solar panel that mounts on top of an existing rooftop. Instead, Tesla’s solar roof tile will serve a dual purpose, acting as a protecting layer from the elements, but also as a energy capture device. The product plans an integral part in the company’s overall vision to produce an ecosystem around energy generation and energy storage systems.
While there’s been no official announcement on how much the Tesla Solar Roof will cost, Musk has said in the past that a solar roof will cost less than a regular tile roof even before one factors in the value of electricity produced. Musk revealed last November during an earnings call that the key in reducing the cost of the product lies in its ability to be stronger and lighter than traditional roofing materials. Musk criticized the existing roofing materials supply chain, saying that it is incredibly inefficient.
By maintaining a weight 80% lighter than ceramic or concrete roofing materials, and having a composition that’s nearly indestructible, Tesla is able to drastically reduce transportation costs and minimize breakage costs. This is a big factor in keeping costs down, said Musk. Musk also noted that Tesla Solar Roof is glass, and glass is mostly sand and sand is cheap.
Tesla will begin manufacturing solar roof tiles from its $900 million Gigafactory 2 facility in Buffalo, NY beginning this summer. Customers will presumably be able to price out and configure their Tesla Solar Roof come April.