Tesla has started installing its first solar roofs. The initial customers are employees, so the company can closely monitor any problems in its premier products. The company is likely eager to prove the value of its acquisition of SolarCity last year for $2 billion.
“This is version one,” cofounder Elon Musk said during today’s second quarter earnings call. “I think this roof is going to look really knockout as we keep iterating.” Earlier this year, he told Fast Company he believed that good aesthetics were key to selling SolarCity’s rooftops. In May the company started allowing interested customers to put a $1,000 down payment on its glass tiled sunlight powered rooftops via an online store, in what has been described as an Apple Store strategy for solar power.
“I have it on my house, [Tesla cofounder] JB [Straubel] has it on his house,” Musk said, adding that the first installations were already generating energy. The company released cellphone photos of one house with the newly installed tiles.
Tesla also said that production of the tiles would not enter mass production at its Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York until the end of 2017, later than its January announcement that mass production would begin mid-year. At the moment, small-scale production of the tiles is being carried out at the former SolarCity pilot production line in Fremont, California.
The news comes a week after Musk announced that the company is entering “production hell” on its much-anticipated Model 3 sedan, and a day after it emerged that longtime Tesla battery technology director Kurt Kelty had left the company.