Now that SolarCity’s board members approved the buyout proposal from Tesla, the latter’s CEO, Elon Musk, already is announcing lofty plans for the residential and commercial solar installing giant, specifically solar roofs. Musk, already SolarCity’s chairman, raised the roof with the new information when he joined in on SolarCity’s second quarter earnings call. The news almost out-shined the overall earnings report.
Asked when SolarCity’s photovoltaic manufacturing plant would start producing 1 gigawatt of solar panels annually Peter Rive, SolarCity co-founder & chief technology officer responded that by the second quarter of 2017 it should be producing photovoltaic modules. “We're going to be making a pretty interesting product and I'm excited to kind of reveal to you all at some point, but it is not just your typical module, it is both very efficient and it looks really, really good,” Rive said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the earnings report.
That’s when Musk jumped in with this tantalizing quote: “It's a solar roof as opposed to a module on a roof.” He added, “This is really a fundamental part of achieving a differentiated product strategy where you have a—it’s not a beautiful roof, that it is a solar roof, it's not a thing on a roof, it is the roof.”
This essentially raised eyebrows throughout the solar industry. Particularly in light of the fact that earlier this week Dow, which had been making solar rooftop tiles, announced that it would stop producing them.
The company exceeded it’s guidance in the second quarter by 9 percent, but it warned that the rest of the year would be a bit choppier. “SolarCity had already warned at the start of the month —on the same day Tesla finalized its offer—that while it beat its guidance for installations for the second quarter, it was taking the axe to full-year targets. On Tuesday, it announced third-quarter guidance of just 170 megawatts—or down a third from a year earlier,” wrote Bloomberg reporter Liam Denning. “That means SolarCity would have to hit it out of the park, over a river, and land it in a cup of water in the fourth quarter to meet even its reduced full-year numbers.”
But about those solar rooftops. Musk, CEO of EV car darling Tesla and SpaceX, has a history of thinking big. “This is really a fundamental part of achieving a differentiated product strategy,” Musk said. “It actually doesn't cannibalize the existing product of putting solar on roof.”
“If your roof is nearing end-of-life, you definitely don't want to put solar panels on it, because you're going to have to replace the roof. So, there is a huge market segment that is currently inaccessible to SolarCity, because people know they're going to have to replace their roof,” Musk continued. “So, why not have a solar roof that's better in many others ways as well. We don't want to show all of our cards right now, but I think people are going to be really excited about what they see.”
SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive added that “Just in the U.S. there are 5 million new roofs installed every year and then this is a product we're focused on the—primarily focused on the new roof market.”
The roofing product will be made at SolarCity’s gigafactory in Buffalo, NY, according to Peter Rive, the CTO. “A large part of that module manufacturing being there is going to be for that.”Tweet