Innovation

Tesla Solar Roof: Elon Musk outlines upgrades for this year and beyond

Tesla's solar-collecting roof tiles are about to get some boosts.

The Tesla Solar Roof is in for a sunny year, based on Elon Musk's latest comments.

The Tesla CEO declared to his 31 million Twitter followers late Monday night that tweaks to the solar energy tile lineup would "hopefully" come later this year, while expressing interest in future upgrades that could make the tiles more snow resistant.

"The degree to which SolarGlass will positively effect the esthetics & energy sustainability of neighborhoods throughout the world is not yet well appreciated," Musk wrote on his Twitter page. "This is a very important product."

It's a marked turnaround for the product, which has suffered a slow start since its unveiling in October 2016. The tiles were detailed during a presentation on the set of Desperate Housewives as part of a vision of the future. A Tesla Model 3 electric car was charging in the garage, a solar roof was collecting energy, and a Powerwall was storing the roof's energy for 24-hour clean energy. It was an impressive reveal, but the early versions only made their way onto a limited selection of houses in the spring of 2018.

That's all changed now, thanks in part to Tesla managing to finally ramp up production on the Model 3. With the company able to dedicate more battery cells for the necessary Powerwalls, Tesla has started offering the product to more consumers. The third-generation solar roof, unveiled in October 2019, is designed for faster installations and broader availability. The company also claims the roof is now cheaper than buying a separate roof with retrofit solar tiles.

It's a big win for eager Tesla fans, who have started sharing their new third-gen installs on social media. But Musk suggests the company's not done there, with more changes in store.

Tesla Solar Roof upgrades for 2020

The main change this year could be a broader selection of color options, after Musk claimed the company would "hopefully" deliver new versions later this year.

Musk's declaration via Twitter.Elon Musk/Twitter

This is perhaps to be expected. During the October 2019 unveiling, he suggested Tesla could unveil a new design every six to nine months. He described one as having an "earth tone...it looks like a clay tile."

What else could Tesla reveal? At the original 2016 presentation, Musk also demonstrated smooth tiles, slate tiles, and an impressive Tuscan design. There's currently no word on whether those will make the cut with the next-generation redesign, however.

Musk also revealed that the company's April presentation will take place at Giga New York, the factory currently producing the solar tiles and other products. Tesla is expected to host a Battery Day that month which will outline its advancements in battery technology, but it's not entirely clear if the two events are the same.

Tesla Solar Roof upgrades for the future

Musk responded positively to the suggestion that the roof could one day employ a heating element, but did not offer any specifics.

In response to aa suggestion from a Twitter user, who claimed the roof would not work in northern Alberta due to heavy snow, Musk wrote: "I think will still be better than a normal roof, but adding a heating grid to automatically remove ice & snow sounds like a good option. We have that already on car windows!"

Elon Musk's declaration.Elon Musk/Twitter

Musk also responded positively to a suggestion that the company should start shipping the roof to the rest of the United States.

Musk's support for solar roof changes.Elon Musk/Twitter

With Tesla aiming to deliver the roof to as many consumers as possible with the third-generation upgrade, this could form a high priority.

As the solar roof starts making its way to consumers and its retrofit rental service starts receiving orders, Tesla may transform into a larger player in the solar space. But with plans to introduce several battery-hungry vehicles like the Cybertruck, Semi truck and Roadster, a cell-starved Tesla already struggling to meet demand could find itself facing familiar bottlenecks.

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