Tesla/SolarCity solar roof will open up a whole new market, SolarCity CEO expects big 2017

Photo credit: Mashable

Ahead of the upcoming Tesla/SolarCity event to be held in the San Francisco on October 28, SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive tells Business Insider that the company expects 2017 to be a big year for solar because of the new solar roof product. The product as first mentioned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk during SolarCity’s Q2 earnings call, would likely be a solar component used during actual construction of a building versus being applied after the fact as in traditional solar panel roofing projects.

“It’s a solar roof as opposed to a module on a roof. I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving a differentiated product strategy – it’s not a beautiful roof that it is a solar roof. It’s not a thing on a roof. It is the roof. That’s – which is quite a difficult engineering challenge, and not something that is available really anywhere else that is at all good. I think this will be something that’s quite a standout. So one of the things I’m really very excited about the future.”, said Musk.

SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said after Sunday’s tweet that the solar roof unveiling when combined with the growing demand for solar will make 2017 a big year for SolarCity. “We should definitely increase forecasts for 2017,” he said. “I think there will be high demand for solar combined with storage. Our solar roofing offering opens up a whole new market we haven’t addressed before.”

Rive went on to say the solar roof will give SolarCity a long-term advantage, according to Business Insider. “I believe that next year, what is going to separate solar companies from one another is going to be their product. If the consumer can’t necessarily tell the difference between solar company A and B’s service because they claim to both have the best service, then you have to have product differentiation.”

The plan for Tesla Motors to buy SolarCity is still waiting for final approval. According to The Motley Fool, the basis behind Musk’s tweet citing Tesla would not have to raise more capital this quarter is because SolarCity actually has a substantial amount of cash on hand. Once the merger is finalized, some of the cash could help Tesla Motors pay for capital expenses.

Behind the scenes, SolarCity has started selling its solar systems rather than its earlier business model where solar systems were leased to consumers. That means it gets paid as soon as the loan is finalized, which frees up funds that previously were used to purchase products and pay installers, but got reimbursed over the life of the lease.

Hoium of The Motley Fool cautions that SolarCity will always need to raise more capital as its business expands and that it won’t be able to be a resource for Tesla long term. But if 2017 is as strong a year for solar as predicted, and if demand for the new solar roof is robust, SolarCity could definitely help Tesla through any liquidity crisis.

Hoium ends by saying,  “Musk may not think Tesla Motors or SolarCity will need to raise funds if they’re combined in 2016, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is still a risky deal and could implode if financial partners don’t have wallets open to fund solar systems in the long term.”

There’s a lot riding on the solar roof reveal later this month. It won’t be quite as dramatic as the Model 3 coming out party, but it is hugely important for Tesla and SolarCity to get this right.

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