Innovation

Elon Musk finally announces when Tesla Solar Roof will go global

The company's solar-harvesting tiles are about to go worldwide.

"The Tesla Solar Roof is about to take its next step into the world, Elon Musk suggested over the weekend.

The Tesla CEO told his 31.3 million Twitter followers that he was "looking forward to international expansion later this year" for the electricity-providing tiles, which blend into the house to look like a regular roof. It will be the first time the tiles will be available outside of the United States, after they were first unveiled in October 2016 and started reaching houses in the spring of 2018.

Pricing is unknown, but if it compares to current prices it could prove competitive with the cost of a roof plus solar panels. One quote provided to Electrek found a 9.45-kilowatt roof measuring 1,862 square feet would cost $38,266, rising to $54,866 with a battery and on-site repairs.

The declaration comes as Tesla works to aggressively ramp up its solar efforts, following a lull where the company struggled to juggle its electric car output alongside the battery production necessary for the roof. The Solar Roof pairs with a Powerwall battery to provide round-the-clock zero-emissions electricity to the home. Tesla, however, struggled to make enough cells after the entry-level Model 3 sedan launched in July 2017, a new entry price for the company's fleet that sent demand soaring and plunged the company into a "production hell."

Nearly three years on from the Model 3's launch, the sun is starting to shine on the Solar Roof. Musk unveiled a third-generation version of the tiles in October 2019, with a focus on a simplified installation process and a price that undercuts the cost of buying a roof and solar panels separately. During the reveal, Musk noted his intention to work with third-party installers and bring install times down to just eight hours.

On Sunday, those efforts seemed to materialize in a new job listing site:

We are hiring roofers and installers who will work together to deploy Solar Roof in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

It remains unclear, however, whether Tesla still intends to work with existing third-party installers for its roof tiles.

International expansion and installer hirings are not the only upgrades slated for this year. Last week, Musk suggested that new color options could also launch this year, making good on an October 2019 promise that new offerings could launch in a matter of months.

Tesla Solar Roof tiles up close.

The current tiles are manufactured at the Giga New York facility in Buffalo. On Sunday, Musk confirmed that the initial tiles for international markets would also be manufactured at the same facility. Over time, however, the plan would be to produce the tiles closer to the consumer.

This idea chimes with Tesla's broader goal to manufacture its cars closer to the consumer, reducing complexity and shipping times. Musk's goal is to place a Gigafactory on every continent. Giga Shanghai handed over its first cars earlier this year, and early work has begun on Giga Berlin. These facilities are designed to ensure the company's American plants don't need to stock up on stickers and adhere to regulations for the global market.

"It's insane to be making cars in California [and] shipping them to Europe and Asia," Musk declared earlier this month, adding that the complexity of shipping means a higher number of damaged cars and greater likelihood of delays.

Early response to the Solar Roof has been positive. Amanda Tobler, one of the first recipients in early 2018, told Inverse that she "wouldn’t hesitate to do it again," adding the project had been "a worthy endeavor."

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