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Tesla to unveil new solar roof

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO
J. Emilio Flores | Corbis | Getty Images
Elon Musk, Tesla CEO

Tesla on Friday will lift the lid on its new "solar roof" product, just weeks before shareholders of the automaker and SolarCity are scheduled to vote on a proposed merger between the two companies.

The event will begin at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, and be live-streamed over the web on Tesla's website.

The "solar roof" has so far been described not as a solar panel, but as a roof itself. On Tesla's third-quarter earnings call Wednesday, Chairman and CEO Elon Musk said the company is trying to design a roof "that is better than a normal roof, looks better than a normal roof," and is built using the most efficient cells at the lowest cost.

Musk said the the roof would target people building new homes, or those replacing their roofs, so it would not cannibalize other SolarCity panel products.

Tesla's solar roof unveil comes one day after the company released details on the Powerwall 2.0, a wall battery thought to be an important piece of the overall system it plans to reveal Friday.

The company said the new battery system is now "is now a cost-competitive alternative to other traditional utility infrastructure solutions such as building larger substations, bigger wires and more power plants."

Musk described his idea for the solar roof back in July, in "Master Plan, Part Deux," a blog post in which he identified some of Tesla's overarching goals over the next several years (he wrote the first "Master Plan" installment in 2006).

In the July post, Musk said the solar-roof-with-battery product could enable individuals to act as their own power utilities, a solution that could be scaled around the world. The product would have "one ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app," he wrote.

Tesla will release more financial information concerning its proposed merger with SolarCity on Nov. 1. Shareholders of both companies will vote on the deal Nov. 17.