Tesla’s Vice President of Solar Products: Competitors Are, “Kind of Fucked”

June 7th, 2017

Disclosure: I sell solar power systems in New Zealand.

The quote in the title is referring to Tesla’s new solar roofing products, but as someone who sells more conventional solar products, the same can be said about the storage sector. I recently wrote:

The storage industry needs to deal with the Tesla reality and drop prices or die.

I only sell high end panels from tier 1 manufacturers and leading inverters, but I wish I had a dollar for every time I lost a deal to some cowboy selling tier 3 panels paired with a JFY (Shenzhen JingFuYuan) inverter. I call those inverters Junk For You, or Lucky Dragons. You know, you might get lucky and get one that works for a while before it lets out the white smoke.

While Musk is selling to rich people and producing premium products, I live in the poorest part of New Zealand and most people here have very limited funds. The people with the least money face the highest electricity prices in New Zealand, so while there is a huge interest in solar power here, virtually nobody is able to afford solar power, never mind any product made by Tesla.

In other words, the people with the least ability to fight back are being victimized by the electricity cartel the most. I spoke at a public presentation on solar power in the town where I live. More than 150 people turned out on a Saturday night to attend this thing. Despite all the hand shakes, business cards and brochures that went out, the number of sales that resulted from this meeting were:


All of the big New Zealand installers were invited, but only one other local guy and I showed up. Those other big companies know that the Far North isn’t worth the time. Sadly, that’s pretty much true if you’re selling systems that start at around NZ$6000. They might as well cost NZ$60 million up here.

I’m trying to sell a Mercedes to a customer who can only afford a used moped.

New Zealand runs a pretty good PR campaign about happy kiwis running around a green paradise, but it doesn’t change the reality on the ground where I live. I am seeing increasing poverty in my part of New Zealand and more people living in sheds, shipping containers and vehicles. I’m hearing from people who have no electricity at all, unless it comes from a cheap inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter in their vehicle.

A friend of ours recently got divorced and she’s living in a shed in a very remote area without any electricity. She actually likes it, but she was having a hard time finding quality portable lighting equipment. Only the worst (but expensive) junk is available in town. I recommended the Fenix CL30R lantern. This unit is very interesting. Not only is it the best portable lantern that money can buy, but it can also be charged with a small solar panel and provide power to USB devices. A person could potentially charge the unit with the solar panel during the day and then get light and power for mobile devices at night. The lantern takes up to three 18650 batteries which are removable. One could keep a backup set of charged 18650s handy for cloudy days. Needless to say, our friend was thrilled with this thing.

We have another friend with even less money living in similar circumstances who is homeschooling two small children. It’s headlamps and candles over there.

About one Km from me is a family of four living in two shipping containers.

On and on…

So, let Tesla take over the universe of solar powered wealthy people. If you’re trying to sell the solar power equivalent of an iPhone to rich people, yep, Tesla is probably going to clean your clock. However, there are plenty of people who will never be Tesla customers, but desperately want and need solar power.

Check this out from 2013:

You could use a drop-in replacement 12v lithium ion battery now for not too much more.

The beauty of solar is that it easily scales up or down. There is a genuine free market in terms of equipment. It is decentralized and relatively immune to robbery from the state. Best of all, it’s getting cheaper and better everyday.

Via: Electrek:

Tesla’s solar roof tiles are not the first attempt at integrating solar cells into roofing products. Several companies have tried in the past and even delivered some products, even big companies like Dow Chemical, but they ended up discontinuing the product.

Now Tesla thinks that it has a winning formula and its new Vice President of Solar Products went as far as saying that other solar companies looking to compete in the segment are “kind of fucked”.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.