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Tesla to start taking solar roof orders today, Musk says

Tesla Inc. plans to start taking orders for its solar roof on Wednesday, Elon Musk tweeted today.

The long-awaited solar roof is expected to be a major product for the SolarCity factory that is expected to begin production of solar products later this year. Taking orders for the solar roof is the first step in gearing up for production to start.

The first solar roofs will come in Tesla's black glass smooth and textured finishes, Musk said. Tesla plans to start taking orders for its Tuscan and French Slate roofing tiles in about six months, tweeted Musk, Tesla's CEO.

The first solar roofs will be installed in the United States, followed by overseas markets next year, Musk said.

Tesla said last week that it is on track to start making the solar roof tiles on a pilot basis by the end of June at its facility in Fremont, Calif.

SolarCity plant remains on track despite slowdown in company's business, Tesla says

Once all the kinks are worked out there, Tesla said it expects to shift production "shortly thereafter"to its gigafactory in Buffalo, which will be the biggest solar panel factory in the Western Hemisphere, built with $750 million in state subsidies through the Buffalo Billion.

While Tesla previously has said it expected to start production in Buffalo this summer, it did not provide a more specific timetable last week for ramping up the RiverBend factory, instead tying the launch of manufacturing in Buffalo to whenever it is that the pilot production phase in California is completed.

Tesla unveiled four different designs for solar shingles at an event in Hollywood last October, but the electric vehicle maker still has not disclosed pricing details.

The roof product, designed to look like a conventional roof even though it has solar modules embedded inside, is a key part of Tesla's plan to differentiate itself from other solar energy installers by offering a premium product that is designed to appeal to homeowners who either are building a new home or planning to replace their roof.

Tesla has pledged to create 500 manufacturing jobs at the factory, along with nearly 1,000 other positions in various support, sales and administrative roles in Buffalo. Success of the solar roof product would have a big impact on the Buffalo Niagara economy.

Tesla, in return for $750 million in state subsidies that built the factory and paid for much of the equipment that will go inside it, also has pledged to help bring 1,440 other jobs to the Buffalo Niagara region through suppliers, vendors and service providers for the factory.

Musk views Tesla's solar roof as a revolutionary product that is designed to replace the clunky solar panel arrays now mounted on homeowners' roofs. Tesla's solar roof, using glass tiles that have solar cells inside, is intended to serve both as the home's roof and as a source of renewable energy.

While Tesla has not revealed how much the solar roof will cost, Musk has said repeatedly that he expects it to cost less than a conventional roof, even before factoring in the savings that a homeowner will reap by generating some of the electricity used in the home.

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