Will Tents Help Tesla Solar Repeat Model 3 Magic?



Although Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk boasted about the Cybertruck pre-order numbers, he hasn’t been as vocal about Solarglass numbers. However, he expects Tesla’s solar and energy segment to be as big as its electric vehicles business in the future. On Monday, CNBC reported that Tesla put up tents in its Fremont, California, factory to cover its solar test structures. The tents will protect the structures from rain and avoid any external interference. Notably, the tents will be removed after two months.

Article continues below advertisement

Tesla Solar and Model 3

Interestingly, Tesla’s Model 3 production also started in a tent-like setup. Last year, the company faced stern criticism due to its Model 3 production targets. However, the situation improved. The company’s Model 3 production was successful. Model 3, Tesla’s comparatively cheaper version, reported record sales this year.

Tesla Solar is probably following the same path. The business launched the third version of solar roofs in October after previous iterations failed. Musk has set ambitious targets for Tesla’s Version 3 solar roof or Solarglass. He plans to produce 1,000 roofs per week. Previously, he also set grand production and sales targets for the company’s solar roofs, which didn’t materialize. We’ll have to see if the tents are a magic wand for Tesla Solar.

A few years ago, Tesla naysayers didn’t even think that Model 3 would be such a big success. Model 3 has been a success due to Musk’s vision and Tesla’s innovation skills. We’ll have to see if his ambitious targets materialize for the solar segment.

Musk’s focus on solar

Musk acknowledged that the company’s focus had been on Model 3 mass production. Now, he will shift his efforts and resources to the solar segment.

Notably, a luxurious electric car and a solar business could be a different ball game for Tesla. There are different mindsets at play when consumers want to buy a car versus a solar roof. While renewables have obtained substantial ground in the last few years, people are usually slow to shift to non-traditional energy sources.

Musk has been focusing on Tesla’s solar segment this year. Previously, he said that he was making “2019 as a year of solar.” Recently, Musk told Tesla employees that he wants to increase solar deployments.

Article continues below advertisement

Elon Musk and Twitter

Tesla’s solar business has attracted negative publicity in the last few years. Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity in 2016, solar roof fires at Walmart (WMT), and solar roofs’ floundering production targets have dented the company as a brand. Musk’s Twitter wars have also tarnished the company’s image. Even Aswath Damodaran, the dean of valuation, isn’t a fan of Musk’s tweets. Read Tesla Stock: Is the ‘Dean of Valuation’ Wrong on TSLA? to learn more.

Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn and Musk engaged in a Twitter war last month. The Twitter war between them deepened after Einhorn criticized Tesla in Greenlight’s letter to investors. Eyeing Tesla Solar’s struggling production ramp-ups, Einhorn expressed his interest in visiting Tesla’s Buffalo factory in New York. To learn more, read With Tesla Solar Roof Jibe, Einhorn Hits Hard.


More From Market Realist