Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk has unveiled an integrated photovoltaic roofing tile that he says would allow a house to generate its own power without solar arrays bolted on.
A joint venture between Tesla and SolarCity, in which the billionaire entrepreneur is the biggest shareholder, the Solar Roof tile consists of a tempered glass panel, a "high-efficiency" solar cell, and a coloured louver film.
The tiles come in four styles, including ones that mimic Tuscan clay and slate, and are tough enough to withstand a dropped one-pound steel ball.
"This is sort of the integrated future. An electric car, a Powerwall and a solar roof," Musk said to an audience while unveiling Solar Roofs installed on film-set houses at Universal Studios in Los Angeles on 28 October.
"The key is it needs to be beautiful, affordable and seamlessly integrated," he added. (Watch a video of the unveiling here.)
Powerwall is Tesla Motor’s wall-mounted home battery.
With Solar Roof, the Tesla/SolarCity venture is hoping to succeed where others have failed.
In July this year Dow Chemical stopped making its solar roof tile, called Powerhouse, four years after starting production at a factory in Midland, Michigan.
The idea is to capture the market in roof replacements in the US. SolarCity co-founder Peter Rive, who is also Musk’s first cousin, said the Solar Roofs could "easily have a five percent share of the new roof market within a year or two", reported Reuters.
Musk did not reveal the cost of the tiles but said re-roofing with his Solar Roof would cost less than a conventional roof plus solar array.
Image: Render of a house with the Tesla/SolarCity Solar Roof (SolarCity)