SolarCity will reveal a “solar roof” as opposed to “solar modules on a roof,” revealed Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who was present on SolarCity’s second quarter conference call. It is unusual for Musk, but it is understandable given the pending deal for the automaker to acquire the solar giant.
SolarCity entering a new market
Musk did not elaborate on the product, but he did make it clear that instead of just installing solar modules on existing roofs, SolarCity and Tesla will go after the roof industry with new products. During the conference call, SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said the unveiling of two new products will come before the end of 2016, around the same time the SolarCity-Tesla merger is expected to be finalized in the fourth quarter).
Just after Rive’s comment, Musk jumped in, saying, “It’s a solar roof, as opposed to modules on a roof.”
Then Rive, who is also Musk’s cousin, confirmed that they are working on a roof-integrated product, to which Musk added, “I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy, where you have a beautiful roof. It’s not a thing on the roof. It is the roof.”
Based on Musk and Rive’s announcement, it appears that SolarCity will reveal two solar products: one integrated with the roof and one for existing roofs, says Electrek. The companies are planning to manufacture these modules at SolarCity’s upcoming 1 GW factory in Buffalo. SolarCity expects the module assembly line to begin manufacturing in the second quarter of next year.
Big market for roofs: Musk
Rive explained it will open a new market for the U.S.-based solar company. There are 5 million new roofs installed every year in the U.S., and if someone’s roof is about to be replaced, they do not want to invest in solar panels to install on it because they are about to take it down, Rive explained. But there is no reason not to go with a power-generating roof if the solar panels are the roof and there is a need to redo it anyway.
Musk believes there is a big market for roofs that are nearing their end of their lives. He said the new business plan will work with SolarCity’s current installations on existing roofs and will not slow the market of the current product. There were rumors that the solar company would reveal a kind of solar shingle, but even though Musk is not necessarily talking about solar shingles here, they could be a possibility.