After Cars, Energy storage, Solar: What future for ‘Tesla Group’?

You could not have missed this last news : Tesla announced their willingness to acquire SolarCity. We already presented our analysis of a series of news from the Electric car world, where Tesla first, then several other main competitors released their plan to offer home batteries. Now Tesla is entering in the solar energy business. What’s at stake ?

Tesla is, at first, an electric car manufacturer. That’s a fact. But as a part of their strategy, they are currently building what they call their « Gigafactory ». A manufacturing site for Lithium-Ion battery able to reach up to 85GWh of packs or cells per year, by 2020. Panasonic partnered with Tesla to do so. They invested tens of billions of yen (1.5 to 3 billion USD) in the project ; which should be completed next year.

Elon Musk also revealed the Powerwall last year. It’s already available in the US. The idea is to reuse old Tesla car batteries and refurbish them to use it as a home storage system. Audi, BMW, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz now have the same plan…

Back then, when only Tesla and Mercedes-Benz had made their announcement, we released our analysis to our readers. The theory was to make a parallel between mass transportation vehicle companies and personal transportation vehicle companies. Alstom, Siemens, Bombardier, General Electric are all trains and tramway makers. Their main activity is to make transportation systems, but they also provide energy production systems through alternators or steam turbines, and also renewable energy systems. They also help transport electricity by making grid and T&D conversion systems. Just looking at the last Alstom division says it all: Alstom Transport, Alstom Grid, Alstom Energy. This happened because the core requirement to build these systems is mastering power electronics. Energy’s core competency is power electronics. So these guys, mastering Megawatt range power electronics, developed all the surrounding businesses they could.

Electric car industry moving to energy storage and production

Now let’s look closer to lower power electronics. Tesla is making electric cars, which is a small transportation system, and uses one of the core needs for that: power electronics (plus battery). They could use the same batteries and power electronics for other things: store energy at home (Tesla PowerWall), produce energy (SolarCity), propose new ways to consume energy…

That’s what is currently happening. All car makers are taking steps into storing and producing energy at home. Why car makers? They are the only ones which will produce power electronics systems at such high volumes in the future. None of the other power electronics system makers like PV inverter makers, UPS, motor drive makers or any other, can announce a production of 500,000 units/year as Elon Musk did about Tesla.

We shared this theory because we want to have your feedback about it. So share your thoughts and make us all go forward! What do you think is next for Tesla and the other car makers?

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