A year ago, Tesla Inc. lost its throne as king of the U.S. rooftop solar business to Sunrun Inc. Now, it may get relegated to third place.
Tesla reported on Wednesday that it deployed just 47 megawatts in the first quarter, down from 73 megawatts a year earlier and the fewest the company has installed in a single quarter since it bought SolarCity Corp. in late 2016. Rivals Sunrun and Vivint Solar Inc. haven’t posted their latest earnings results yet, but they deployed 115 megawatts and 54 megawatts, respectively, in the fourth quarter.
And that’s just the publicly traded companies. It’s possible privately held Sunnova Energy Corp. is installing more than Tesla, too.
In its first-quarter update, Tesla doesn’t really go into the reasons for the slide in its solar installations, but the company has pulled back marketing and said in February that it would close stores and promote its panels online instead. Tesla noted this plan on Wednesday while adding that its goal is to put customers “in a position of cash generation after deployment with only a $99 deposit upfront.” That way, it said, “there should be no reason for anyone not to have solar generation on their roof.”