Tesla unveils stunning solar roof tiles

Tesla's chief executive Elon Musk unveiled the company's much anticipated solar roof tiles earlier today (29 October), claiming that the success of the product and the new integrated Powerall would hinge on a mooted merger with SolarCity.

Musk revealed the solar roof tiles at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, and while little detail was given in regards to price and performance, the Tesla chief claimed that the glass tiles were introduced to be more attractive to consumers looking to add solar technology to their home.

According to Tesla, the cost of the roof would be less than the current installation costs to place a conventional solar array over a roof. Reportedly the tile, available in an array of colours have a 2% less on efficiency compared to traditional panel, although Tesla is working to enhance performance.

The rollout of the product is expected to commence next summer, but Musk warned that commercialisation would be “unwieldy” if Tesla hadn’t successfully combined with sister company solar city by then. A vote on the acquisition of the struggling solar company is due to take place on 17 November.

Owning SolarCity is part of a move to “complete the picture” for the motor company by aligning with the Tesla Energy subsidiary, which already allows home owners to store energy through the Powerwall and Powerpack products – with reservations already amounting to $1bn.

On 25 August, it was confirmed that Tesla had won the US ‘antitrust’ law approval to buy solar panel installer SolarCity, following a $2.6bn (£1.9bn) bid made at the beginning of the month. The US Federal Trade Commission approved the deal after the bid was fast tracked for approval after regulators claimed the companies having little to no overlaps.

SolarCity’s co-founder Peter Rive – Musk’s cousin – was also at the event. He claimed that the solar roofs could have a 5% share of the new roof market over the next few years.

Powerwall 2

The event also released new details on the upgraded Powerpack energy storage module. Although details were released in a blog post a day before, it was revealed that Powerwall 2 would offer up to 14 kWh of solar storage.

Powerwall 2 will be available at some point in 2017 with a cost of around $5,500. This is in comparison to the original Powerwall – which debuted in April 2015 – and offered 7 kWh for $3,000 or 10 kWh for $3,500.

The announcement puts into motion Tesla’s four-step “master plan” that will see the company branch out from the development of electric vehicles (EV) in order to become an organisation that delivers a “sustainable energy economy”. The four-step plan will see Tesla build on the success of its EV portfolio by extending the electrification process to heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport by next year.

Earlier this month, Tesla announced that all future EVs will be built with components that will allow the vehicles to drive autonomously. Each vehicle will also be synced with smartphone technology allowing the owner to “summon” the vehicle at the touch of a button.

Matt Mace

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