EV manufacturing firm Tesla is reportedly planning to test its solar roof at its Fremont, California-based factory. Recently revealed building permit indicates a new direction in the company’s business.
Solar ambition takes hold
Tesla is looking to establish “a test structure to evaluate Tesla solar roof product and installation process,” states the building permit issued to the company last month. The company’s solar ambitions have been delayed for long, but the latest installation could help it propel its ambitions. The company’s CEO Elon Musk also tweeted about this recently, suggesting that he aims to make 1,000 of these solar roof panels by the end of the year.
The idea was first unveiled by Musk in October 2016 during a joint event with SolarCity. He said that the solar power generating roof would look more like premium architectural shingles. Interestingly, since then, the roof tiles division of the company has been largely lackluster, and it hasn’t generated significant revenue for it too.
In a letter to shareholders, the company briefly mentioned its energy generation and storage business, suggesting that delay in the production of its Solar Roof was behind the overall lukewarm performance of the segment.
“Higher costs from temporary manufacturing under-utilization of our Solar Roof ramp have further contributed to a decrease in margins,” it said.
Back from the dead
Interestingly, the company didn’t mention their solar roof product explicitly in the Q2 earnings call, and even analysts conveniently forgot about this business. Musk reignited the fire on Monday, tweeting that the company is revving up the production line for the solar roof rapidly and aims to manufacture up to 1,000 roofs/week by the end of this year.
However, the tweet didn’t sit well with everyone. The famed CEO had earlier agreed to a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission which mandated him to get any tweets that could impact the company gets pre-approved by the agency. There is no news about Musk seeking approval for the tweet from the watchdog yet. The SEC’s press office has also declined to comment on the status of his tweet.
Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity for $2.6 billion has failed to generate any buzz or revenue for the company yet. The deal was criticized earlier because the company was founded by two of Musk’s cousins and he was the top shareholder in the company. The EV maker had plans to establish a factory in Buffalo, New York.