Tesla has agreed to pay more than $6 million in a class action lawsuit filed by customers facing a sudden price increase for solar rooftop systems in 2021. The price increase caused more than 6,300 people to cancel their solar rooftop contracts with Tesla Energy.
The Tesla solar roof system was formerly known as solar glass. The company’s CEO, Elon Musk, first envisioned the system in 2016 as an architecturally attractive roof that generates energy and looks as good as clapboards on a house without solar panels. It later turned out that the glass solar tile he showed off at a shareholder presentation about Tesla’s proposed acquisition of SolarCity was a prop, not a working prototype.
Tesla Solar Roof customers had already signed deals with the company and were preparing to install the systems in their homes when they were suddenly caught off guard by a sudden price hike in 2021, requiring higher payments to proceed with the installation . That same year, Tesla at least doubled the price of its solar arrays, and made purchasing a Powerwall home storage system a requirement for customers ordering solar panels or roof tiles.
The price increase was not insignificant. Lead plaintiff in the class action, Matthew Amans, found that the price of his solar roof had increased to $146,000 from about $72,000 in the original contract. Rooftops with Tesla Energy have more than 6,300 customers.
As of early 2023, Tesla had installed just 3,000 of its solar roof systems in the US since the technology was unveiled seven years earlier. Through the first quarter of 2023, Tesla’s total solar deployment was 67 MW, representing a 40% year-over-year growth. At the same time, sales growth for Tesla’s energy-storage systems was 360% year over year in the first quarter of 2023, suggesting that Tesla’s energy division’s sales are more dependent on backup batteries for home and utility systems than solar systems.