Tesla is working pretty hard on selling people more things—first cars, then batteries, and then just last week it introduced a Solar Roof with interlocking shingles. It turns out both cars and solar panels need a lot of glass, so now Tesla is just going to make that, too.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed his company’s “glass technology group” over a phone call discussing the new Solar Roof according to Electrek, who first scooped that Tesla might be working on such a thing two months ago.
From Electrek’s update today:
As an example of differentiation, Musk mentioned the new glass used by the company as a layer of its solar roof tiles:
“It is using a lot of techniques used in automotive glass business. In case it wasn’t obvious with the announcement, Tesla has created a glass technology group – with some really phenomenal people.”
He confirmed that the glass was developed by a new technology group at Tesla that focuses on glass development.
One of the people Musk is calling “phenomenal” would be Mike Pilliod, who is the director of the Tesla Glass group. As we reported in our original coverage of Tesla Glass, Pilliod was one of Apple’s top materials engineers. He is named on a long list of patents at the Cupertino company, most of them having to do with innovations in glass touchscreens and electronic devices using glass, like the iPhone.
Musk said the first automotive application of Tesla’s glass skunkworks will be deployed in the Model 3, which featured a large panorama glass roof in its April reveal. That was sort-of maybe a concept design, so we’ll see how much ‘Tesla Glass’ the real car ends up with.
The Model 3 interior’s main feature is also a large display screen, which will supposedly take up almost all of the vehicle information and user interface duties. Rather than develop its own Tesla screen with their own Tesla glass, the latest report in April was that the displays would be supplied by LG, according to Gizmodo.
The glass used for Tesla’s Solar Roof demonstration, which didn’t feature functional solar panels, held up much better than the traditional roofing alternatives, so perhaps Tesla may be looking for special strength in the glass for its vehicles.
I wonder how Tesla’s glass production is going to work. Perhaps there’s an empty football field in the Gigafactory for them to use.