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Musk Talks Solar Missteps in Q1 Call

Monday, May 10, 2021

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Last week, during Tesla’s first-quarter earnings report, CEO Elon Musk said that the company has made “significant mistakes” in its solar roof project rollout, nodding to recent cost hikes and changes.

Tesla reported $494 million in sales in its energy generation and storage sector, however, the segment is still reportedly not profitable.

On a related note, Musk also said that Tesla now will only sell its solar panel products paired with the Powerall battery, rather than selling everything separately.

This all is coming after reports of massive price hikes on installations that were first reported in March. Electrek reported that, last summer a quote for a 3,947-square-foot roof with a 12,3 kW solar roof tile system was $54,966 before incentives.


Last week, during Tesla’s first-quarter earnings report, CEO Elon Musk said that the company has made “significant mistakes” in its solar roof project rollout, nodding to recent cost hikes and changes.

Now the Tesla Solar Roof configurator shows prices between $79,938 and $100,621 for the same size roof.

On the Q1 call, Musk pointed to adjusting for the complexities of various roofs, noting that more measurements need to be taken to make sure the roof can actually support the solar tiles.

The bundling of materials, Musk said, will help streamline the process and costs.

Tesla’s Solar History

The company first announced that it was entering the solar market at the end of 2016, opening pre-orders for rooftop solar photovoltaic systems in May 2017.

That system used a mix of regular and solar shingles featuring solar-collecting tiles—not panels—in two tile styles.

At that time Tesla began taking $1,000 deposits for the tiles, which the company said cost roughly $21.85 per square foot. The solar roof system was supposed to debut in the United States that year and expand to other countries in 2018; however, the launch of the Solar Roof V3 didn’t occur until 2019, and Tesla recently canceled many of the preorders.

As systems finally began being installed in 2019, the company also started renting out solar panel rooftop systems.

In addition to delays and changing business models, two lawsuits were filed near the end of 2019 against Tesla regarding solar panels.

The first lawsuit highlighted that SolarCity, the 2016 acquisition that made Tesla's solar business possible, was in financial trouble at the time and that Musk knew about the financial trouble. The other came from Walmart, which sued Tesla because of solar panels that reportedly went up in flames over several rooftops.

In summer 2020, Tesla rolled out the online order form at the end of last month that it originally said would cut costs for consumers by one third.

Most recently, though, Mississippi Power and Southern Power announced a partnership to build a “smart neighborhood.” Dubbed “Enzor Place,” the homes in the plan will exclusively feature the Tesla Solar Roof as well as Powerwall batteries, energy efficient equipment and appliances, and smart home automation.

The plan is slated to eventually have up to 150 homes, with 45 planned for the first phase of construction. The project is expected to start at the beginning of next year.


Tagged categories: Business matters; Good Technical Practice; Green building; NA; North America; Solar; Solar energy; Solar reflectance

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