The American-based automaker, Tesla has revealed that it has begun manufacturing its premium solar roof tiles at the company’s Buffalo, New York factory last month and has started surveying the customers’ houses who made a deposit of $1,000 to reserve the product last year.
The solar roof essentially generates electricity without the need for traditional rooftop panels. It is a cornerstone of Tesla’s strategy to sell a fossil-fuel-free lifestyle under the luxury Tesla brand. Tesla introduced the product in October 2016 as it sought to acquire solar installer SolarCity.
At that time, Tesla believed that the product could be rolled out as soon as the summer of 2017. In November, Tesla founder Elon Musk said the product was going through a six-month testing process, saying “it just takes a little while to get this behemoth rolling.”
Starting from own houses, more than a dozen Tesla employees, including Musk and Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel, had the solar roofs installed on their homes last year as part of an initial pilot programme.
In May last year, Tesla began taking orders for the solar roof tiles by asking homeowners to put down a $1,000 deposit via its website. However, Tesla hasn’t disclosed that how many reservations it had received for the solar roof. The product will be installed on some customer rooftops in the coming months.
The company claimed that its solar roofs would cost between 10 and 15 percent less than an ordinary new roof plus traditional solar panels.
Tesla is also collaborating with its longstanding battery partner, Japan’s Panasonic Corp, to produce solar products at the Buffalo factory. There are about 500 employees working at the site currently, Tesla said.
Although the companies began manufacturing of traditional solar panels at the site last year, they have not yet been installed on rooftops. According to the company, it will achieve more than 1 gigawatt of cell and module production in Buffalo, and possibly as much as double that, but gave no timeline for meeting the target.
According to Tesla, its primary focus is increasing production of its Model 3 sedan. The company said last week it would likely build about 2,500 Model 3s a week by the end of the first quarter, half the number it had earlier promised.