Tesla Motors continued to energize the automotive world this week when company CEO Elon Musk tweeted, “Major new Tesla product line — not a car — will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30.” Within minutes, Tesla’s stock spiked significantly as news of something other than a new automotive offering could be a huge step forward for the California-based electric powerhouse.
Since Tesla is no stranger to thinking outside of the box, a blatant deviation from all things automotive for an upcoming product launch came as no surprise to both auto enthusiasts and investors alike. This obvious lack of shock on our behalf is primarily due to the fact that Musk is the chairman for California-based solar company Solar City, and that he made an announcement a little while ago saying “We are going to unveil the Tesla home battery, the consumer battery that would be for use in people’s houses or businesses fairly soon.” But with zero photo teasers, only one tweet to work on, and more questions than answers, we decided to weigh some real life pros and cons.
First of all, this is fantastic forward thinking, and Musk has his head in the right place when it comes to energy independence. Giving Americans the option to free themselves from the grid has been long talked about, but this time it looks like we have a real contender on our hands. Secondly, Musk may have his head in the right place when it comes to environmental stewardship, but his eyes are still on our pocket books. With the Tesla S costing $70,000, it is safe to say that this home battery pack is going to cost quite the pretty penny. Finally, there is the issue of the grid itself, because what happens if April showers turn into a month of downpours and there is no sun in sight? Do we call up our utilities provider and ask for a splash of “juice” to hold us over?
Regardless of how well this household battery will function, there is no denying the fact that this is a huge announcement coming from a company whose stock has seen uninhibited growth over the past few years. With Musk telling investors in February that he expects the company to be worth $700 billion by 2025, it is pretty obvious that there has to be some sort of divisional growth outside of the automotive market. CNN Money also says that Tesla to is slated to report $6 billion in revenue this year, and while this may be no small chunk of change to us common folk, there is no denying the fact that Tesla will have to grow that number exponentially to help justify the company’s current valuation.
Numbers aside, there is no denying the fact that Tesla has our undivided attention, and Musk continues to keep the media and consumers alike on the edge of their seats in anticipation. Musk is so good at building hype that he sometimes shoots himself in the foot when a new Tesla product, service, tech update, or business plan does finally get released, and a lot of people suddenly find themselves underwhelmed by the end product after all of that aggrandized hype. So perhaps for now, it might be best for Musk to under-promise and over-deliver on these new releases, instead of whipping everyone into a frenzy over something that could ultimately prove underwhelming.
One thing we can be sure of is that Tesla is still building the world’s largest battery factory in Nevada, and that its completion will be the beginning of a larger plan to pull most of America off of a coal-powered grid, while giving consumers the ability to supply and control their own energy. According to a report by Bloomberg Business, this $5 billion project is something that Musk says “will reduce the price of battery storage by 30 percent.” That kind of claim is big news, because it could be a potential game changer for the world of energy consumption, as well as in the battery-powered automotive realm, and Bloomberg says that Tesla’s launching of a self-sufficient personal power grid “could both enhance and disrupt the U.S. power grid.”
So for now, all we can do is pull back from the edge of our seats and hope that Tesla’s next round of “big news” is a little more earth shattering than its last one, where range anxiety was never fully put to rest. Tesla is obviously trying to change the game yet again, and further embed itself in the American mainstream, since most of us still cannot afford a $70,000 Tesla. But will this home battery pack actually catch on, and are there any downsides outside of it being pricey? Only time will tell if the battery-powered home will be a hit, but as far as downsides go, well that’s already in the history books.
On the surface, having a self-sufficient power grid built into our homes is a fantastic way for us to heat and cool our homes, recharge our Tesla cars at the end of the day, all while keeping energy costs down, and eliminating our dependence on burning coal or oil. But what most of us fail to realize is that to manufacture these huge rechargeable batteries we must first mine for natural resources and precious minerals, a process that Car and Driver says damages ecosystems in a variety of ways. So if Tesla really wants to stick to its guns and help the planet, it needs to find some more environmentally conscientious mining techniques before it starts churning out household batteries on such a large scale.
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