It’s been quite a week for Tesla. The first 30 Model 3 electric cars were delivered to their new owners and there was an announcement about the installation of the first Tesla Solar Roof systems. There is a connection between the two events. In both cases, the first customers will be Tesla employees. That way, the company hopes to work out any kinks in the manufacturing process before either product gets into the hands of regular customers.
“I have them on my house. JB has them on his house,” Musk said at Tuesday’s Q2 earnings call. “JB” is Tesla’s chief technology officer JB Straubel. “This is version one. I think this roof is going to look really knock-out as we just keep iterating.”
According to Bloomberg, the total installed cost of the Solar Roof, including removing the old roof, is $42 per square foot. The whole point of the Solar Roof is that is costs less than installing a new roof and adding a conventional rooftop solar system on top of it. That number is less than replacing a roof with any conventional materials and adding a solar system.
The glass solar tiles are currently manufactured at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, but production will transfer to Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, later this year. Tesla expects full production to begin in 2018.
It is marketing the Solar Roof at Tesla stores, a tactic that resembles what Apple does with its products. Early indications are that the move will significantly reduce costs compared to the outside sales force model previously used by SolarCity.
Tesla says it will manage the entire process of solar roof installation, including removal of existing roofs, design, permits, installation, and maintenance. The company estimates that each installation will take about a week to complete once installation begins.
That sort of “Say yes and it happens seamlessly” is precisely what Elon Musk wants for Tesla customers going forward. No three estimates. No coordinating between roofers, electricians, and building officials. If you want it, you got it. That’s the sort of convenience customers appreciate.