Tesla Motors may be close to eliminating the electric bill, at least for some consumers.
Company CEO Elon Musk is expected on Thursday to unveil batteries capable of powering a home or a business, giving consumers with solar panels a chance to generate and store their own energy, and to potentially cut the cord with traditional power providers.
Musk – also chairman of clean energy company SolarCity – revealed his plans in a recent earnings call, letting slip that his company will “unveil the Tesla home battery … that will be for use in people’s houses or businesses, fairly soon.”
The battery is expected to employ the lithium-ion technology used in Tesla’s Model S vehicles and be able to store energy for buildings to use during an emergency power outage. But it would still need to draw energy from an outside source – making owners of solar panels a target audience.
How much the device costs will be a deciding factor in its success, says Karl Brauer, senior director of insights with automotive valuation company Kelley Blue Book. According to a report from the Guardian, customers may need to shell out $13,000 for the battery, although some SolarCity customers who were early users of the device were able to lease it by paying an initial fee of $1,500, to be followed by payments of $15 per month for 10 years.
“If Tesla can produce a cost-effective home energy storage system, it could prove far more valuable and profitable than anything the company is doing with automobiles,” Brauer says. “As solar panels get cheaper and easier to install, the only thing keeping consumers tied to the energy grid is a need for electricity when the sun isn’t shining.”
The battery would continue Tesla’s efforts to reshape the energy business. The company already offers buyers of its electric vehicles free recharging for life, though with the catches that the service is available at its nationwide network of Supercharger power stations and drivers have to pay approximately $70,000 for Tesla’s Model S sedan, currently the company’s flagship car.
Tesla is expected to live-stream the unveiling of its new device at 8 p.m. PDT on its website.
SOURCE: Tom Risen
U.S. News & World Report