Production of Tesla roof tiles with solar panels in Gigafactory 2 is delayed due to assembly line problems and direct interference from Elon Musk; according to various sources, he is often dissatisfied with the aesthetic quality of the roof tiles.
Eight current Tesla and Panasonic employees and ex-employees told Reuters that Musk’s demands on aesthetic quality have led to production delays at Gigafactory 2, among other things. a joint venture between Tesla and Panasonic. In addition to regular solar panels, the Solar Roof roof tiles are also made here. The sources could not give current production numbers of the roof tiles.
Tesla would use solar cells from the company JA Solar because of a better degree of reflection, while Tesla would actually purchase cells from Panasonic for the production of the roof tiles. JA Solar declined to comment. Panasonic has confirmed that it will sell some of the panels produced under its own brand name, rather than selling them to Tesla. According to two sources, Panasonic would ship a large number of cells to potential buyers, due to low demand from Tesla. However, Panasonic says it has not yet made any final deals with customers other than Tesla. The Japanese manufacturer expects Tesla to simply use cells from Panasonic if Solar Roof is sold on a large scale.
Not only Panasonic seems to be concerned, also politicians from New York state. The local government has invested a total of about 750 million dollars in the factory in Buffalo. In return, Tesla is required to hire 1,460 workers in Buffalo, including 500 at the factory; this must be done within two years of the completion of the plant. Tesla also has to invest 5 billion dollars over ten years. New York believes that Tesla meets the requirements of the deal for the time being, but during an earlier tour of the factory, a politician noted that only a small part of the factory appeared to be in use. According to Tesla, 600 employees are now working at the factory and the company is on track to meet the requirements of the deal.
Because Solar Roof tiles are made of quartz, they have an almost infinite life, according to Elon Musk. The roof tiles are transparent to allow sunlight to penetrate to the solar cell on the inside, but a user can only see that if he looks straight at it. The system is also compatible with Tesla’s Powerwall home batteries, which can store excess solar energy. A US customer who ordered a Solar Roof system was charged approximately $100,000, which included the necessary three Powerwall home batteries. The installation, which involved about twelve workers, lasted a total of two weeks.