Elon Musk Plays Solar Salesman: "Check Out the Sweet Roof"

Ahead of a proposed vote to merge with Tesla, Solar City shareholders and anybody with a livestream got the chance to see what the solar panel company is up to during a brief event on Friday night, hosted by, naturally, Elon Musk.

The Tesla CEO and Solar City chairman spoke from a stage set up at Universal Studios in Los Angeles (familiar to Desperate Housewives viewers) as the sun was setting. He was backed by houses that Solar City had outfitted with solar panels and showed “before” images of the homes before wowing the audience with glowing displays of residential solar energy at dusk.

Musk envisions two-thirds of all power being produced at the utility scale (using the Powerpack 2) and a third of it being produced locally, or from the panels on a person’s house (using the Powerwall 2).

“The solution is both local power generation and utility power generation, it’s not one or the other,” Musk said during the 15-minute presentation.

The assembled crowd. Around the stage are homes outfitted with solar panels.

Some of that solar power would feed into a Tesla charging station that would power up batteries for a Tesla car, of course. The rest would go to power the home.

“People think of Tesla as an eclectic car company but the whole purpose of Tesla was to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy,” Musk said. (Earlier this summer Tesla changed its name to reflect this).

Musk sees three keys to the sustainable future:

  • “A really appealing solar roof”
  • Storage (A 14 kWh Powerwall battery, starts at $5,500)
  • Electric cars (Teslas)

“If you have a great solar roof, and you have a battery pack in your house, and you have an electric car, that scales worldwide,” Musk said. “You can solve the whole energy equation with that.”

Musk wants you to buy all those things from Tesla or Solar City, or after the presumed merger (shareholders vote on November 17) from just Tesla.

He repeatedly noted the admittedly elegantly designed solar panels, which were a far cry from the white-on-black grids we’ve been seeing for decades.

“It needs to be beautiful,” Musk said of a solar roof. And they really were, especially when designed to look like Terra Cotta tile:

He also showed off the strength of the tiles in a classic side-by-side bit of advertising. (Notice that the tile is already being referred to as “Tesla Glass Tile.”)

After showing off the homes with solar roofs (and Teslas in the driveways), Musk went for the close, describing a future where neighbors brag about their solar roof instead of say, their car or their riding lawn mower. “Check out the sweet roof,” one might say to another.

The key is really to make solar something desirable, where if you install a solar roof on your house, you want to put it on the most prominent part of the house. You want to call your neighbors over and say, ‘Check out the sweet roof.’ It’s like, not a phrase that you hear often, but that’s the key to it. People really care about their homes; they love their homes and they want them to be better. And I think taking this approach, it can be. So that’s where we’re headed and I hope you agree, that’s the future we want.

The assembled crowd was warm and enthusiastic: “Save us Elon!” a dude-bro shouted early on. While investment analysts have yet to be convinced that Solar City can make money on its own when it’s likely merged with Tesla, as Vice reported recently, some think Tesla can cover the losses and turn them into gains. With the cult appeal of Elon appearing as strong as ever, he’ll have plenty of evangelists.

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