In March, Tesla caused outrage among customers who had reserved a solar roof by making significant price hikes to their solar roofs. Customers reported communications from Tesla saying that the price of their solar roofs were increasing, sometimes even more than doubling.
These customers were only given the choice of agreeing to the higher price or canceling their reservation for a solar roof. Some of these customers filed a class action lawsuit with the San Jose, California, U.S. District Court, and at least one customer called the price hike effective “bait and switch” tactics. The lead plaintiff, Matthew Amans, says that Tesla hiked the price of his solar roof from $72,000 to more than $146,000. Similar lawsuits have been filed across the country.
At the time, Elon Musk blamed the price hikes on challenges with the solar roofs’ supply chains and rooftops that were more complicated than expected or unable to support solar tiles. According to Musk, the company also made “significant mistakes” that caused cost overruns and delays, often to the annoyance of customers who have been waiting on their solar roofs since 2020.
Now new court document filings show that Tesla plans to reverse the price hikes for customers who reserved a rooftop before April 2021. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say that they are willing to discuss a settlement to “consider, clarify and formalize certain terms of relief” for customers who had previously agreed to the lower price.
Those who ordered a solar rooftop after the cutoff date will still have to pay the higher prices, and likely also order at least one Powerwall battery as part of a “bundled” deal. Tesla is currently facing challenges with manufacturing the Powerwall due to a semiconductor chip shortage that is also hitting the automotive industry hard enough that Tesla floated the idea of taking extra steps to secure a steady supply. So if you do order one, be prepared for likely delays in the delivery of the Powerwall.
Tesla says that it has installed the equivalent of more than 10 million solar panels on 400,000 rooftops. The solar part of its business earned $20 million in profit for the second quarter of 2021, with sales totaling $801 million. The company has plans for virtual power plants made up of Powerwalls that can provide electricity to the power grid in states like California that have been hit hard by overwhelming demand for power over the summer. It also plans to become an energy retailer in Texas, possibly as a response to the multiple issues that the state has had with its power grid this year.
It is possible that Tesla’s mishandling of pricing for its solar rooftops will hurt sales, though. The exact details of any possible settlement in this class-action lawsuit have not yet been announced. However, those who haven’t already cancelled any orders they placed before March 2021 may be able to expect that the price of their solar roofs will revert back to what they originally agreed to.