Tesla’s (TSLA) controversial $2.6 billion acquisition of SolarCity might win over the doubters after all. The company’s sleek new solar roof tiles, which were first made available just a few weeks ago, are sold out "well into 2018," according to Tesla CFO Deepak Ahuja.
Ahuja spoke with analysts at RBC Capital Markets, who wrote to clients about the meeting in a note. The note was first reported on by Electrek, who independently confirmed that "Tesla’s orders over the past few weeks indeed exceeded the company’s expectations and based on their current planned production ramp up, they expect their current demand to last well into 2018." (See also: Tesla's Releases Pricing For Solar Roofs)
Tesla started taking orders from U.S. customers on May 10 for its innovative roof tiles, which come with a 30-year power generation guarantee and potential long-term cost savings. Pilot manufacturing of its first two types of tiles, smooth and textured, took place at the company’s Fremont, Calif. facility, although the plan is to move production to its more suitable Gigafactory 2 plant soon. The Buffalo-based factory houses tech developed by Tesla, SolarCity and Panasonic — the Japanese electronics giant previously invested $250 million in the facility to help Tesla ramp up its production capabilities.
Cheaper, All Around
Tesla, which estimates that its eco-friendly roofs are much cheaper then conventional ones, due mainly to savings generated from cheaper electricity bills, is set to launch two more styles of its solar tiles, Tuscan glass and Slate glass, early next year. It also plans to start selling its solar roof tiles to overseas customers in 2018. (See also: SunPower CEO Skeptical About Tesla’s Solar Roof)
However, if demand continues to soar, Tesla may find it difficult to keep up. Aside from being under pressure to meet its production commitments, the company also has to contend with the difficult task of installing the roofs. According to Electrek, Tesla has been busy trying to recruit roofers to solve this challenging issue.
While Tesla will likely be pleased that consumers have taken to its solar roof tiles, strong early demand adds to a host of other production issues for the Palo Alto-based company. (See also: Tesla Factory Sees More Injuries Than Industry Average: Report.)
Last year, the electric automaker sold out its first year of production of its Model 3 in just a few weeks. To help meet demand for its first mass-market electric car, Tesla revealed last month that it planned to alter its original manufacturing process.
Automakers generally test a new model's production line by building vehicles with relatively cheap, prototype tools. To meet its volume production deadline, Tesla confirmed that it will skip this step and go straight to installing more expensive equipment.