As much of the company’s news has come to be, reports of Tesla offering a new, automated, process for California customers to purchase commercial and industrial (C&I) solar systems were confirmed via tweet from CEO Elon Musk last week.
Tesla commercial solar ordering now live at https://t.co/sCkn87vMa9!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 13, 2019
By following the link, customers are transported to a sales page so streamlined, that a C&I installation can be ordered in its entirety by filling out just 12 fields and putting $100 down. It is, however, important to point out that this order form deals only with the elements of the installation, not the labor or contracts involved, something Musk was quick and clear to point out.
However, we won’t customize the contract or engage in negotiations. That just causes the Tesla & customer legal bill to be high & drag things out. Pay for clean power, not lawyers! It makes way more sense.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 14, 2019
The installations come in three sizes and are available to lease as well as purchase: 40 kW ($62,062 or $0. 129/kWh), 120 kW ($134,652 or $0.109/kWh) or $240 kW ($241,892 or $0.099/kWh). That means that customers who chose to purchase the largest option up-front are paying an incredibly low $1.01/Watt. For anyone intrigued by the thought of further savings: note that these figures already account for the 30% federal tax credit.
It goes without saying that those figures are really, really low; in fact they are nearly as low as the average per-watt cost for large utility-scale solar installations.
This is the second time low per-watt offers by Tesla have made the news, after offering residential solar for $1.75/W. One factor associated with Tesla being able to offer such low prices have been the company’s plummeting costs of customer acquisition which are the result of the move from door-to-door sales to online sales.
Online sales allow for the shedding of salaries otherwise dedicated to sales personnel, and customer acquisition represents as much as $0.35/W for the typical system (roughly 13% of total system costs). However, the launching of this tool could well also be a sign of an of something larger: an industry shift towards making online sales the norm
The webpage also includes a rough sizing and energy usage outline, so that customers, based off of their square footage and needs, can determine what size system is right for their business without the need for a site survey or a roof inspection – which further brings down costs.
Correction: This article was corrected at 9:00 AM EST on September 17. An earlier version gave incorrect figures for the cost of solar that Tesla would install. The numbers have been corrected and we regret the error.