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SolarCity has plans to sell homeowners a 'solar roof'

SolarCity is entering the roofing business.

The company said Tuesday it plans to make a high-tech roof with integrated solar panels, and hinted at other features as well. Executives said the plan could open up a new market with millions of potential customers in the United States alone.

"It's not a thing on the roof, it's the roof," said SolarCity Chairman Elon Musk on a conference call with analysts on Tuesday.

Musk said this will be a "standout" product and a "fundamental part of achieving a differentiated product strategy" for SolarCity.

The news came as SolarCity announced it had a second-quarter net loss of $55.5 million, or 56 cents a share, wider than last year's shortfall of $22.4 million, or 23 cents a share. The adjusted loss in the latest period was $2.32 a share, which was better than the loss of $2.44 a share analysts were estimating, according to a Thomson Reuters survey.

Revenue was $186 million in the quarter, which compared with an estimate for $146 million, according to Thomson Reuters. It was also up more than 80 percent from a year earlier.

SolarCity said the rate at which it is installing new panels slowed during the quarter.

Elaborating on the rationale for offering a high-tech roof, Musk said that this product would not cannibalize existing solar panel products — SolarCity is trying to tap a new market of homeowners reluctant to install solar panels on a roof they may be replacing soon.

SolarCity Chief Executive Lyndon Rive, Musk's cousin, said there are 5 million new roofs installed in the U.S. every year. These are the customers SolarCity wants to go after.

Musk also hinted there will be other features on the roof, but did not give specifics.

"And so, why not have a solar roof that's better in many others ways as well," he said. "We don't want to show all of our cards right now, but I think people are going to be really excited about what they see."

Musk's other company, Tesla Motors, formally announced its plans to acquire SolarCity for $2.6 billion in shares earlier this month.