Tom Werner, SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) chief executive officer, has expressed skepticism concerning the ability of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) to provide a lowly priced solar roof as was promised late last year by the company’s chief executive officer, Elon Musk. Then, the electric car maker which had just merged with SolarCity had indicated that it could offer a solar roof that would be cheaper than a regular roof before even factoring in energy savings. Tesla’s solar roof was to be made from quartz glass instead of photovoltaic steel which is what is used to make regular solar panels.
“So the basic proposition would be ‘Would you like a roof that looks better than a normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less and by the way generates electricity’ why would you get anything else,” Musk had argued following the approval by shareholders of the merger between Solarcity and Tesla.
While Tesla’s idea might look new or novel, SunPower had experimented with the same concept but the costs were too prohibitive when the energy generated was considered. It did not also look appealing to most customers.
Some analysts also hold similar views to Werner’s. Axiom Capital, for instance, argues that the average cost of a shingle roof made of cheap asphalt is about $1 for every square foot. The cost of a square foot of a solar roof has been estimated to be $6 therefore making Tesla’s claims seem farfetched.
But in Tesla’s defense, the specifics have not been released yet and given the company founder’s history of making feats that seemed impossible possible, the electric car maker could still pull it off. Also, Tesla might be in a position to enjoy economies of scale that no other firm has previously had. Additionally, the cost of solar technology has significantly come down in the recent past. This means that it is no guarantee that just because SunPower failed to make an affordable solar roof ten years ago, it will still end in failure in the present time.
On Thursday shares of SunPower Corporation edged up by 0.48% to close the day at $6.22.