Tesla solar roof customers who were blindsided by the company’s massive (and legally questionable) price hikes in April may be able to get their original rates restored, according to a court document published this week.
As first spotted by CNBC, a Thursday filing with the U.S. district court in San Jose, California, details a new program that Tesla quietly launched to placate longtime solar roof customers:
“On September 13, 2021, counsel for Tesla informed counsel for Plaintiffs that Tesla had recently launched a program for customers who signed Solar Roof contracts before the April 2021 price changes to return those customers to their original pricing (if they were subject to a price increase in April 2021).”
The document is from a class-action lawsuit filed against Tesla in May by Matthew Amans. The lead plaintiff argues Tesla jacked up the price for outfitting his home with a solar roof by about $US75,000 ($103,223) when it came time for installation — from $US71,662 ($98,628) per his original contract to $US146,462 ($201,576), according to Business Insider. Amans wasn’t the only one: Multiple Tesla customers said they received emails from the company in April disclosing huge prize hikes for their solar roof contracts, some of which had been signed more than a year ago at that point, ahead of their scheduled installations.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk later said during an earnings call that month that the company had made “significant mistakes” in calculating how much to charge customers in its solar roof tile project. Instead of being placed on top of a roof like traditional solar panels, Tesla’s solar roof is designed to replace a building’s current roof with tiles that act as solar cells, which enable it to absorb the sun’s rays and convert them into energy. Musk claimed Tesla had run into trouble “assessing the difficulty of certain roofs” and that the “complexity of roofs varies dramatically.” As such, Tesla no longer considered its original price estimates to be accurate, leading to the dramatic price hikes.
CNBC points out that Tesla’s solar websites don’t appear to list any further details about the program outlined in Thursday’s filing. According to the document, Amans’ legal team has also requested additional information about the program. Tesla did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, though it should be noted that the company hasn’t announced a new PR department since it dissolved its old one in October 2020.