Tesla is no longer just a luxury electric vehicle manufacturer. Some of the company's most profound new products have focused on renewable energy systems. Late last year the company announced solar roof tiles which were mainly designed for new home installations. They have been relatively slow to get off the ground though since most of the solar market is centered on adding solar panels to existing buildings. Tesla's newest announcement comes as an effort to strengthen their position in this mainstream solar market.
The new solar panels will be manufactured exclusively by Panasonic at Tesla's new Gigafactory 2 facility in Buffalo. Prior to this announcement, Tesla's solar panel division SolarCity used a wide range of generic panels from other manufacturers. They weren't especially attractive due to their thick construction and mounting hardware.
By designing and producing their own panels in partnership with Panasonic, Tesla will be able to control most aspects to create a seamless solar system. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, hopes this can allow them to create a more distinctive solar panel brand. Musk's plan is reminiscent of Apple with their distinctive design traits and visually appealing construction. This includes panels with "no visible mounting hardware" and much better overall aesthetics. The new rail-less mounting system was produced by Zep Solar, which Tesla later acquired.
Tesla will offer new 325-watt panels in addition to their older 250-watt panels from other suppliers. The new "sleek and low-profile" design is sure to turn heads in a market that was once dominated by less visually appealing blue rectangles and aluminum mounting bars.