Elon Musk’s uncanny gift for capturing the tech and solar world’s attention was once again on display yesterday after the billionaire tweeted details of a tantalizing new solar rooftop, storage and charger kit set for launch in October.
The pithy tweet read simply: “Aiming for Oct 28 unveil in SF Bay Area of new Tesla/SolarCity solar roof with integrated Powerwall 2.0 battery and Tesla charger”, and that was enough to rouse the Twittersphere.
It was always a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Musk would announce the first joint Tesla-SolarCity product launch, given that the former’s offer to buy the latter was agreed by the SolarCity board on August 1. This merger is expected to be realized in the coming months, pending the approval of shareholders of both companies. There is also the small matter of a series of investor lawsuits.
Musk’s long-held and oft-stated vision has always been to ease the transition to energy self-sufficiency in the home, and the synergies between his Tesla electric vehicles and SolarCity’s low-barrier PV adoption model were obvious from the outset.
Recent product launches have been inching the two firms towards ever closer union. The Tesla Powerwall – unveiled in 2015 – was one of the first home storage batteries to really capture the wider public’s attention, and it was designed with solar homeowners in mind.
In recent weeks, Musk has also released details of SolarCity’s plans to develop building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) modules at the firm’s Buffalo factory – another step along the road towards developing a truly holistic home environment that can subsist truly off the grid and free from fossil fuels.
As SolarCity sidles ever-closer to Tesla, Musk’s influence on the solar installer’s image and direction is becoming more apparent. Having been a largely unchallenged darling of the U.S. residential solar landscape for years, recent months have been tougher on the company as its innovative business model has consistently failed to achieve the types of financial returns it would have hoped.
Massive investment by both firms (notably Tesla’s development of a huge battery factory near Reno) are seen in the industry as a confident gamble on further growth.