Tesla plans to pare back residential solar business, Reuters reports
- Internal documents reviewed by Reuters show Tesla's plans to shutter 13 or 14 solar installation facilities, according to two different lists. Reuters reported that nearly 60 installation facilities remain open.
- The development follows news of Tesla's reorganization, including a move to cut 9% of its employees and to not continue its partnership with Home Depot for residential solar sales.
- Tesla plans to grow its solar and residential energy storage business through its sales channels, to its electric vehicle customers online and inside its U.S. stores. "The reorganization that we announced last week does not impact" these efforts, a Tesla spokesperson wrote Utility Dive.
While the electric vehicle manufacturer tries to meet its production targets for its latest luxury sedan, company statements maintain that the solar operation — obtained through its acquisition of SolarCity in 2016 — remains important to Tesla.
"Our energy products are critical to our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, and we continue to expect that Tesla’s solar and battery business will be the same size as automotive over the long term," said a Tesla spokesperson.
As Tesla continues to pursue sales of its solar products in its own stores, Home Depot will continue a partnership with Sunrun, Reuters reported. As direct competitors, Sunrun and SunPower have not seen the same declines in solar as Tesla, according to a recent analysis from the Motley Fool. The two developers have grown their residential solar business and increased their market share while Tesla plans for continuing layoffs.
Residential solar installations are expected to remain stable this year, following a 15% decline in 2017, according to a new assessment from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Greentech Media analysts. The residential sector "shows some signs of improvement over 2017," while non-residential solar installations were off by more than a third, quarter-over-quarter.
Details of how many employees will be affected by the solar facility closures remain unclear. Reuters reported that SolarCity offices in California, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Arizona and Delaware were targeted for closure. Based on Tesla's comments, cuts across its solar sector will be seemingly on par with the 9% cuts across the company.
Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed details of the company's restructuring via Twitter:
Difficult, but necessary Tesla reorg underway. My email to the company has already leaked to media. Here it is unfiltered: pic.twitter.com/4LToWoxScx— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 12, 2018
Reuters reported that the Home Depot partnership accounted heavily for its solar panel sales.
Tesla plans to expand in-store access to its SolarCity panels, which the company previously stated as being available in over 90 of its U.S retail locations. "Over the past couple of quarters, we have increased efforts to sell energy generation and storage systems in Tesla stores," the company wrote in its Q1 shareholder letter this year.
Follow Iulia Gheorghiu on Twitter