Tesla's new Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York has started large-scale production of its rooftop solar glass tiles with Elon Musk pledging that it will transform the rooftop solar industry. Tesla initially expected the rollout of the solar shingles to begin in 2017, with the manufacturing of the first two types of tiles - smooth and textured - to start during summer.
As we previously reported, Tesla started taking orders with a $1,000 deposit for the first versions of its solar roof tiles in May 2017 and the product was sold out "well into 2018" within the first few weeks.
Over the past few months, several sightings of Solar Roof installations were observed by the Tesla community.
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Tesla said the workforce at the RiverBend factory now is approaching 500 people, although the company declined to say how many people are working for the electric vehicle maker at the facility and how many are working for other companies, such as Panasonic or other suppliers and service providers. Tesla appears to have worked out the issues that caused the delay because it has finally started manufacturing the solar roof tiles.
As part of the tiles' testing process dozens of Tesla employees had the tiles installed in their own homes including Musk and Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel.
These particular roof tiles aim to change the way that rooftop solar installations are perceived, as they will be able to produce clean electricity without compromising the "aesthetic" side of the roof replacing conventional bricks with energy-generating ones.
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The company says that the "typical homeowner can expect to pay $21.85 per square foot for a Solar Roof". Those roofing tiles were made at Tesla's pilot production line in Fremont, Calif. The plant was originally a project of SolarCity, acquired by Tesla in November 2016.
The news came from Peter Fannon, Vice President of Technology Policy at Panasonic Corporation of North America; in an interview with the Consumer Technology Association (CES), he said: "Panasonic is already inside that factory making solar panels".
The Model 3 sedan has been plagued by production delays and missed schedule. During the first three quarters of this year alone, Tesla's total installations - which include an undisclosed number of commercial projects - were down by 32 percent, or 208 megawatts. Its share of the residential solar market has shrunk from 35 percent in 2015 to 14 percent during the third quarter, according to Reuters.
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