Elon Musk is looking to ramp up Tesla Inc.’s solar roof-tile business even as the company’s panel installations shrink.
Tesla is rapidly “spooling up production” and hopes to manufacture about 1,000 solar roofs a week by the end of the year, Musk said in a tweet Monday evening. That would represent a massive increase for the company, which at one point in 2018 was making enough shingles to cover three to five homes a week, two former employees said.
Musk’s Twitter post follows an earnings report that was devoid of any update on production plans for the solar roof, which the CEO first unveiled in October 2016 to help seal the $2.6 billion acquisition of debt-burdened SolarCity Corp. Tesla said in a quarterly filing earlier Monday that it was still working on design iterations and testing to improve manufacturing capability and didn’t give any output forecast.
Tesla representatives didn’t immediately respond Tuesday when asked whether Musk got the go-ahead from a company-employed securities lawyer prior to sending his tweet. Following a court battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year, a judge ordered the CEO to obtain pre-approval from counsel before tweeting projected production numbers that haven’t been previously published by the company.
Judy Burns, an SEC spokeswoman, declined to comment.
Once the king of the U.S. rooftop panel industry, Tesla relinquished the throne to Sunrun Inc., then dropped from the number two spot earlier this year. Tesla’s purchase of SolarCity generated little in the way of earnings but accounts for more than one-fifth of Tesla’s $10 billion of outstanding debt.
Tesla, which gets most of its revenue from automobiles, said last week that it’s committed to solar and is working to improve aspects of the business. The company installed just 29 megawatts of conventional solar panels in the second quarter -- its fewest megawatts yet in a single period. That’s down from its previous low of 47 megawatts in the first quarter. At its height, SolarCity installed more than 200 megawatts over three months.