At an internal meeting last May, as SolarCity was recovering from a disappointing earnings announcement that sent the stock falling by over 20 percent, Lyndon Rive, the company CEO (and cousin to Elon Musk), took questions from employees about the company's future. One staffer brought up a topic he wasn't ready to discuss yet:
“At a meeting sometime ago, you spoke about a product very cryptically," said the employee. "A product that was so good-looking that you would want it on your roof because it would improve the look of your home. We all wondered what that was. Is that still in the pipeline? Can you give us more clues as to what it was?”
“That’s a lot of clues! I’ve reduced my clues since then." Rive said, smiling, declining to expand. “But I’m excited by it.”
Today we will all finally get a glimpse of the product that Rive and Musk have been secretly planning for months. A one-piece rooftop that simultaneously shelters the home, generates power, and looks pretty damn attractive. (Assuming this last bit is true.)
If all goes according to Musk's master plan, an attractive rooftop will inspire more consumers to install solar power in their homes, giving SolarCity access to an even bigger energy network. It also is the next step in Musk's plan to solve another piece of the renewable energy puzzle. Musk envisions a world where the sun shines on his roofs, the energy is stored in his batteries, and then powers his cars. It's a tantalizing idea. It's also extremely expensive and risky. More and more skeptics wonder whether the company will be able to pull it off.