Innovator Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, was on a recent quarterly financial call for SolarCity with some interesting insights. During the call, Musk revealed that SolarCity is set to unveil a “solar roof” that will be different from “solar modules on a roof”.
Musk didn’t go into further details on the elusive product, however it seemed clear that the Tesla/SolarCity vision will be going after the roof industry with new products vs. installation of solar modules and panels on top of existing roofs.
Based on comments by Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO, it’s anticipated that this along with another new product will be unveiled by the end of the year, which is around the time that Tesla and SolarCity are expected to close on their merger.
When Rive confirmed that they were working on a roof integrated product 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.”
There have been some rumors that SolarCity would unveil a solar shingle type of product, but it’s doesn’t seem to be what Musk is referring to in this instant, though a possibility.
Rive estimates that there are 5 million new roofs installed each year in the US and sees an integrated roofing product as a better option to traditional solar panels that are mounted above the roof.
Based on comments, it seems that the two new products will be the integrated roof product for new roof installations, and a product designed for existing roofs.
A big question that comes to mind looking at the integrated roofing solution is, who will be responsible for installation. There is a great deal that goes into creating a quality roof from flashing and the need to keep things water tight. Will the solar installer be qualified to do this? Or will this be a next step for roofing contractors in the near future. Time will tell.