Elon Musk Wants to Build 1,000 Solar Roofs a Week

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As one last hurrah before the birth of baby Jaguar XE SV, Elon Musk told shareholders on an earnings call that he wants to ramp up to putting Tesla Solar Roofs on 1,000 houses a week. That’s after setting (and achieving, Musk says) a goal to make sure Tesla has enough of the solar tiles in the supply chain.

Musk’s ambitious Solar Roof plan faces a few challenges. Each roof takes about a week to install, which means 1,000 roofs a week will require 1,000 trained teams working in tandem. In fact, due to the seasonal nature of installation—it’s harder and takes longer in the winter, and in some places, “winter” temperatures last for almost half the year—Tesla will need more than 1,000 teams.r

But Musk has never shied away from a challenge, and he said on the call that interest has been high both in the U.S. and abroad, including “a tremendous amount of interest from China.” Just for kicks, there are almost five hundred millionhouseholds in China, which would keep 1,000 Tesla installation teams busy for almost 10,000 years. (For the third-generation tile he unveiled last year, Musk joined production forces with a Chinese company and dumped Panasonic.)

The Solar Roof rollout has been slow, and Tesla has been taking orders all this time. Tesla will likely have plenty to do for a while, and interest in the Solar Roof has grown as costs fall for solar technology around the world. Inverse cites different obstacles over time, from a shortage of battery cells after Tesla put them all in the Model 3 to the bottlenecked supply chain for tiles before now.

tesla solar roof


Installation teams are the final friction point in Musk’s ambitious goals. As Inversesays, “One of the most interesting parts of the third-generation tiles’ announcement was the plans to speed up installations, aiming to reach eight hours.” But in the call, Musk said, “We want to have at least 1,000 Solar Roof install teams, taking a week or perhaps a little less than a week to do an install, which gets you 1,000 a week roof installations.”

Inverse suggests the difference will be made up by a combination of Tesla’s own installers and third-party installers trained on the Solar Roof. Having a simpler, better tile could go a long way—the Solar Roof’s appeal over a traditional roof with panels is that it’s all in one and looks more sleek and normal. The more teams that are trained, the more roofs that can be installed. 

And though the Solar Roof costs tens of thousands of dollars, it comes with a hefty tax credit and a 25-year warranty. One thousand roofs a week is likely just the beginning.

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