Tesla – Solar Tribune https://solartribune.com Solar Energy News, Analysis, Education Mon, 10 Jan 2022 13:59:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.12 The Electric Vehicle Era is Here https://solartribune.com/the-electric-vehicle-era-is-here/ Fri, 01 Oct 2021 15:32:15 +0000 https://solartribune.com/?p=70661 In what seems like the blink of an eye, the auto industry has embraced electrification in a big way as household names – beyond Tesla – make big investments in battery and related technological enhancements. If you are in the market for a car any time this decade, the overwhelming likelihood is that you will […]

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In what seems like the blink of an eye, the auto industry has embraced electrification in a big way as household names – beyond Tesla – make big investments in battery and related technological enhancements. If you are in the market for a car any time this decade, the overwhelming likelihood is that you will purchase an electrified vehicle. For those passionate about renewable energy, this is something of a seminal moment given that widespread adoption globally of electric vehicles represents perhaps the single biggest opportunity to reduce the effects of climate change.

Competition Heats Up

It wasn’t too long ago that Tesla was considered to be the only reputable player in town on the electric vehicle manufacturing front. Technologically speaking, Tesla still maintains superior advantages over its competitors, but the electric vehicle market is still much more crowded today than it was just a handful of years ago. We don’t hide from our pro-Tesla bias at Solar Tribune, but even we must recognize that the increased number of electric vehicle models with competitive price points is ultimately good for overall market development. Major electric vehicle pronouncements by auto companies in recent years include:

Just about every other major global auto company from Honda to Audi to Volkswagen have announced similar “all-electric” commitments to be met within roughly the next 15 years. Electric vehicle start-ups Lucid Motors and Rivian, the latter of which recently beat Tesla and GM in producing the first all-electric pick-up truck, add further diversity of options to the electric vehicle marketplace.

Ford also made waves in the industry just days ago when they announced plans to invest $11.4B on new auto plants in Tennessee and Kentucky that will produce electric vehicles and the batteries that power them, that latter of which is an important goal as domestic auto players try to wean themselves off of foreign EV battery supply chains. Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford, fully understanding the significance of Ford’s embrace of electrification, put the move in important context:

“With this investment and a spirit of innovation, we can achieve goals once thought mutually exclusive – protect our planet, build great EVs Americans will love and contribute to our nation’s prosperity.”

Electric Vehicles by the Numbers

Fully electric vehicles and their various hybrid variations continue to grow in popularity in the United States. Since 2010, over 4.1 million hybrid electric vehicles, 633,809 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and over 1 million fully electric vehicles have been sold domestically. The growth in fully electric vehicle sales has increased every single year since 2010. The 761,100 electrified vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2020 are a record, and it represents the fifth consecutive year of growth in EV sales in the United States.

Data Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

California accounts for 42% of all electric vehicle registrations in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. For perspective, electric vehicles registered in California exceed that of the total number registered in the next 14 states combined.

The Tesla Model 3 is by far and away the most popular electric vehicle sold in the United States. According to data from the Transportation Research Center at Argonne National Laboratory, sales of the Tesla Model 3 accounted for 47.4% of all electrified vehicle sales in 2019 covering 45 different vehicle models. Even though the electrified vehicle marketplace has become more crowded in recent years, it is clear that Tesla still dominates.


Data Source: Transportation Research Center at Argonne National Laboratory

Busting Common Myths

Despite the growing adoption rates of electrified vehicles, myths still linger. Here are some of the most common busted myths:

“Electric vehicles are only for rich people”

The escalating sales of EVs in the United States are quite directly tied to the improving price point of said vehicles. Numerous hybrid electric vehicles can be had for under $30,000. The same is true for several PHEV models, and while fully electric vehicles will be pricier than their aforementioned counterparts, many models still will keep the consumer in the low $30,000s range. And don’t forget about the federal tax credit of up to $7,500 (varies based on EV battery size) that can further bring down the sticker price.

Purchase price aside, the lifetime costs of owning an ICE vehicle vs. the costs of owning an electric vehicle make the economics of electric vehicle ownership a complete no-brainer. According to analysis by ConsumerReports, owners of EVs can expect to save up to $1,000/year and $9,000 over the lifetime of a car in fuel costs alone when compared to an ICE vehicle (driven 200,000 miles). The absence of necessary fluid changes and other regular repair costs that come with the more complex ICE vehicle lead to even further savings for EV owners. The average dollar savings from reduced maintenance and repair costs over the lifetime of vehicle ownership amounts to $4,600.

“I’ll save on gas costs, but those savings will be offset by increased electricity costs from home charging”

The math will vary based on multiple factors, but it is hard to imagine many scenarios in which regular overnight charging at your house will increase your monthly energy bill over what you would typically pay in monthly fuel costs for an ICE vehicle. The aforementioned ConsumerReports study noted that an EV driver will save an average of $800 to $1,000 a year on fueling costs over an equivalent gasoline-powered car.

“The range of electrified vehicles is too low for me to do any meaningful amount of driving.”

Many of the most affordable fully electric vehicle models available on the market today offer a driving range of roughly 150 to 250 miles on a full charge. Slightly more expensive options like the various Tesla models easily clear the 300-mile mark. Most of the industry leading ranges for PHEVs will be closer to 40 miles, meaning that you can drive those vehicles in “electric” mode for about 40 miles before your car’s internal combustion engine starts to kick in and use up gas. Such a range is going to be more than sufficient to cover the daily round trip commuting needs of most Americans.

The main Achilles Heel of electrified vehicles when it comes to driving range is that distance driving can get especially complicated given the relative dearth of charging stations in the U.S., especially compared to the more ubiquitous gas station. While this fact is indeed a challenge, there is nowhere to go but up from here. The building of the U.S. EV charging infrastructure is inevitable, and the growth will likely be exponential given the fact that almost all major auto makers are slamming the door on ICE vehicle production by the end of this decade. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of public EV charging stations in the U.S. grew by 245% from 2014 to 2020.

All Eyes on Congress

Even though electric vehicle sales in the U.S. continue to rise, the industry is still very much in the developmental stages. After all, EV sales in Q2 of 2021 amounted to just 3.6% of total vehicle sales according to McKinsey. Significant public investments to build out the national charging infrastructure and additional financial incentives to draw people to the EV market will be necessary as the industry seeks to become more mature.

All eyes are on our Capitol Hill these days as we follow the status of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill has a number of provisions that specifically target the EV industry. The most prominent of which include:

  • $7.5B set aside for nationwide EV charging station investments
  • $7.5B to help school districts across the country replace diesel fuel engine school buses and ferries with low- and zero-emission replacements.

Democrats have also proposed in their $3.5B budget bill an increase in the EV tax credit to up to $12,500 for U.S.-made, union-made zero emissions vehicles, a meaningful increase from the $7,500 incentive that is currently in place for most other electric vehicles.

Lawmakers continue to hash out the details of the aforementioned pieces of legislation. What the final numbers look like for EV-impacted investments is anybody’s guess right now. Regardless of what formally comes out of Capitol Hill, the momentum in the EV industry is unmistakable. Electrification commitments from major auto makers, tougher emissions standards at multiple levels of government, and state-level EV incentive programs will help to accelerate the EV revolution.

Industry analysts were claiming that 2020 would be the year of the electric car, but the Coronavirus pandemic and resulting downturn in the global economy had other plans. Nailing down the “year of the electric car” may be a fun parlor game, but it is clear that we are at something of an inflection point in the auto industry. The pace of change in the industry and the rate of electric vehicle adoption globally will only accelerate from here. Buckle up – it’s going to be a heckuva ride.


Cover Photo Source: Ernst & Young

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The Solar Year in Review https://solartribune.com/the-solar-year-in-review/ Mon, 28 Dec 2020 14:29:47 +0000 https://solartribune.com/?p=68821 2020 is a year that most of us will soon want to forget. The pandemic-induced global recession that dominated the year will be felt for some years to come. Like most industries, the solar industry felt its share of turmoil in 2020, but industry successes were still achieved and optimism for a bright 2021 is […]

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2020 is a year that most of us will soon want to forget. The pandemic-induced global recession that dominated the year will be felt for some years to come. Like most industries, the solar industry felt its share of turmoil in 2020, but industry successes were still achieved and optimism for a bright 2021 is very much warranted.

Solar Industry Feels the Pandemic Pinch

It won’t be until early 2021 when we can get a more complete picture of the job losses the solar industry suffered in 2020, but the numbers are sure to be pretty grim. Earlier this year, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) predicted that 38% fewer people would be employed in the industry through June than what their earlier pre-COVID projections called for, effectively wiping out 5 years of solar job growth.

Photo Source: SEIA

Records Still Get Broken

Despite the unprecedented challenges that 2020 presented, the solar industry was still able to reach impressive new heights.

Solar accounted for 43 percent of all electricity-generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2020, according to the Q4 Solar Market Insight report, jointly released earlier this month by Wood Mackenzie and the SEIA. The report also notes that 2020 is likely to surpass 2016 as a record year for solar deployment with 19 GW of new solar capacity expected to be installed by the time the year is over. The likely record-breaking year is owed in large part to the stability that the utility PV segment has provided in an otherwise unpredictable year. Utility-scale solar accounted for 70% of the total 3.8GW of solar capacity installed during Q3.

It was the residential and commercial sectors that bore the brunt of the pandemic-induced turmoil from earlier this year as statewide shutdowns disrupted a business model that relies heavily on door-to-door sales. In a somewhat miraculous turnaround, the residential solar sector is still poised for a record-breaking year. Bloomberg NEF is forecasting that a record 3 GW of residential solar will be installed on U.S. homes in 2020.

If the projection comes to pass it will only underscore the broader industry’s adaptability and staying power in the face of unprecedented challenges. By embracing digital sales amid statewide lockdowns limiting person-to-person interactions, residential solar installers were able to broaden their customer pool in a way that can bear fruit even when a return to “normal” is achieved. By Q3, most state lockdowns were lifted and homeowners stuck spending more time at home embraced the opportunity to make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes. With work from home arrangements likely being the new norm at least through the first half of next year, residential solar may continue to ride its positive momentum to another record-breaking 2021, as Bloomberg NEF predicts.

Tesla’s Big Year

Aside from biopharma companies who led the way in creating a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s hard to find a major company who had a bigger year than Tesla.

At the start of the year, Tesla’s stock price was near $85/share. The company’s stock will end up finishing the year above $700/share. To put Tesla’s stratospheric 2020 rise in perspective, the company’s market cap of over $700B is greater than the five top-selling global vehicle making groups combined! The startup company that naysayers once wrote off as just another flash in the pan is now trading on the S&P 500, one of the world’s most recognizable stock market indices.

Tesla’s rise up the ranks of the world’s most valuable companies coincides with a growing realization in the auto industry, and on Wall Street, that the days of internal combustion engine (ICE) dominance in the auto industry are clearly numbered.

A perfect storm of sorts occurred in 2020 to bring the electric vehicle industry to this point. Stricter global regulations on vehicle emissions and ever-growing support among consumers for electric vehicles continue to make the economics of gas-powered vehicle production less and less favorable for auto makers. General Motors, who has dominated the gas guzzling pick-up truck space for decades, recently committed to spending $27B on electric vehicles. These expenditures will, for the first time, exceed the company’s planned investments in gas-powered vehicles.

Bloomberg projects that electric vehicle sales may be headed for a record in Q4. From their analysis:

“The current quarter may well be the first ever in which automakers sell 1 million fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles worldwide. It took the industry until 2015 to get its first million on the road. The global fleet is now about to cross the 10 million mark.”

Technological advancements have also contributed mightily to the electric vehicle industry’s brightening prospects. Tesla, of course, has been the industry leader on this front, and they unveiled even more technological breakthroughs in 2020. Namely in the form of new lithium-ion battery innovations that Elon Musk promises will allow Tesla to bring a brand new autonomous electric vehicle at a price point of $25,000 to the auto market within the next 3 years.

Photo Source: Tesmanian.com

Changes in Washington Fuel Industry Optimism

In some rare good news for the solar industry out of Washington, the omnibus spending bill and COVID relief package passed by Congress and signed by the President in December included an extension of the solar investment tax credit (ITC). The ITC was scheduled to drop from 26% to 22% in 2021, but will now stay at 26% for two more years. This important solar incentive has worked wonders in recent years to encourage more homeowners to embrace solar. Its extension is a big deal and one of the few successes the industry achieved on Capitol Hill this year.

Efforts by the Trump Administration to stymie growth in the renewables sector over the past 4 years have been well-documented. On the whole, Trump’s efforts have been futile as the solar industry reached all manner of solar capacity and generation milestones during his term. There is still no doubt, however, that the solar tariffs levied by the Administration injected unnecessary uncertainty in an otherwise stable industry, hurting solar workers and company balance sheets in the process.

The impending inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States couldn’t come at a more crucial time for the solar industry and for climate change advocates. Solar industry players aren’t looking to the Biden Administration for an industry-saving life preserver so much as they are just looking for the federal government to take their foot off the industry’s neck.

Photo Source: CNBC

The Biden-Harris Administration will assume office as the most pro-renewables presidential administration – by far – in U.S. history. Biden has called for investing $2 trillion over 4 years in clean energy in an effort to meaningfully reverse the harmful effects of climate change. By comparison, the Obama-Biden Administration set aside $90 billion for clean energy investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009. The nearly 2,000 times increase in the former figure shows just how rapidly the politics of climate change have changed in just over a decade. Biden’s clean energy plan also calls for achieving 100% clean electricity nationwide by 2035. Such an ambitious goal would likely require installing and bringing online hundreds of millions of solar panels nationwide.

Much of what can be achieved on the renewables and climate change front in Biden’s initial term will hinge on the composition of the Congress. Another round of economic stimulus and an infrastructure bill are likely to be early term priorities in 2021 for the Biden Administration, both of which could be ripe for bi-partisan support and include significant investments in clean energy. Regardless, the solar industry will rejoice in having a friend, not foe, in the White House for the first time in 4 years and the industry’s job creation potential will likely take off starting in 2021.

With the extension of the ITC now enshrined in law, a new pro-solar Administration soon assuming office, and plans for historic clean energy investments by the federal government, this may be the time to bet big on the solar industry. We look forward to chronicling what is shaping up to be a prosperous 2021.


Cover Photo Source: Orange County Register

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Tesla Innovations Bring New Promise to Electric Vehicle Industry https://solartribune.com/tesla-innovations-bring-new-promise-to-electric-vehicle-industry/ Tue, 29 Sep 2020 18:56:58 +0000 https://solartribune.com/?p=68378 The electric vehicle industry is on the cusp of a watershed moment as companies like Tesla redouble their efforts to perfect battery technology and ramp up production capabilities of more affordable vehicles. Tesla Lays out Vision at ‘Battery Day’ Tesla held their much anticipated “Battery Day” on September 22, following the company’s quarterly shareholders’ meeting. […]

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The electric vehicle industry is on the cusp of a watershed moment as companies like Tesla redouble their efforts to perfect battery technology and ramp up production capabilities of more affordable vehicles.

Tesla Lays out Vision at ‘Battery Day’

Tesla held their much anticipated “Battery Day” on September 22, following the company’s quarterly shareholders’ meeting. At the event, Elon Musk laid out the company’s plans to usher in a new generation of electric vehicle batteries that will be more powerful, longer lasting, and lead to significant overall cost savings for future buyers of Tesla vehicles.

One of the biggest takeaways from Tesla’s Battery Day is that the company is totally overhauling the design of the lithium-ion battery. The newly designed cylindrical batteries will be 6 times more powerful than present-day batteries, store 5 times more energy, and increase driving range by 16%.

Photo Source: The Drive

The interior of the newly designed batteries resembles a fruit roll-up of sorts, as the traditional “tab” lithium-ion battery design is replaced in favor of a tightly packed jellyroll containing both the positive and negative electrodes of the battery. The rolled-up design cuts down on the distance that the electrons have to travel, helping to achieve improved efficiencies. The new tabless batteries are dubbed the “4680 battery,” a reference to its larger dimensions (46 mm diameter and 80 mm height) that allow for the aforementioned increase in energy storage and power gains.

Photo Source: Popular Mechanics

In addition to the battery re-design, Musk and his team are aggressively going after battery cost reductions by eliminating one of the most expensive components of the battery – cobalt – in favor of nickel cathodes. The cost reductions achieved by virtually eliminating the need for cobalt also come with ancillary benefits of improved sustainability. For example, while new nickel material will be required in initial production, Tesla will eventually focus on recycling nickel from existing batteries thereby reducing the need to mine for precious metals. Cobalt is also toxic, and the fewer toxic materials being mined and processed around the world the better for all of us.

Cheaper Batteries = Cheaper Cars

The ultimate end game to revamping lithium-ion battery technology and cutting battery costs is of course to pass on these cost savings to the consumer in the form of a much more affordable vehicle. Tesla’s battery redesign allows the company to optimize the basic structure of a vehicle’s frame, leading to a lighter vehicle that relies on far fewer moving parts.

Photo Source: Tech Crunch

The combined redesign of both the new battery and the new structural elements of the vehicle will slash Tesla’s production cost per kWh by 56%. This monumental achievement opens up the door to a whole new generation of low-cost electric vehicle that can be brought to the market, and that’s exactly what Elon Musk has in mind.

Photo Source: Forbes

Musk frequently highlights the connectedness between Tesla’s ‘trifecta’ of sustainability-focused business lines. Using mass produced cheaper batteries to drive down electric vehicle costs is the next frontier in global sustainability. As Musk stated at Battery Day:

“The three parts of a sustainable energy future are sustainable energy generation, storage, and electric vehicles…we intend to play a significant role in all three. So to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy, we must produce more EVs that need to be affordable and a lot more energy storage, while building factories faster and with far less investment.”

The new battery technologies that Tesla is pursuing will allow for the company to roll out a $25,000 fully autonomous electric vehicle to the market in just 3 years’ time. Musk later confirmed on Twitter that Tesla will be producing a brand-new line of vehicle at the $25,000 price point rather than offering the option for one of their existing vehicles.

Tesla’s plan would obviously turn the automobile industry on its head. Up to this point, Tesla has been firmly entrenched as a luxury car maker that produces a product outside the reach of your average American consumer. A more affordable vehicle would be good for Tesla’s bottom line as it opens the door to tens of millions of new prospective customers based on price alone, but more importantly, this is just the type of groundbreaking development that would meaningfully accelerate the global transition to sustainable energy.

The Bigger Picture

Tesla’s new battery technology and affordable car production goals underscore a growing inevitability that is apparent to even casual observers of the automobile industry – the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered.

Even before Tesla held its Battery Day and unveiled its 3-year benchmark for rolling out a more affordable vehicle, industry analysts were already throwing out a similar timeline for electric vehicles to surpass their gas guzzling peers when it comes to economic feasibility. As Aakash Arora of the Boston Consulting Group put it in early September:

“Three years from now, there will be no debate that buying a gasoline car is an economically worse decision than buying an electric car.”

Far from a pie-in-the-sky vision, this projection actually jives with other electric vehicle industry forecasts made years ago. An analysis by Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF) in 2017 projected that “EVs will be cheaper to buy than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in most countries by 2025-29.”

Lithium-ion battery prices have plummeted in recent years from about $1,100/kWh in 2010 to about $150/kWh in 2019 – a drop of over 85%. A price of $100/kWh has long been viewed as the “holy grail” for the industry and the potential inflection point at which electric vehicles would roughly be at price parity with gas-powered ones.

It is worth noting that the topline price comparisons between electric vehicles and gas-powered vehicles fails to account for the immense lifetime savings that electric vehicles afford to their owners. According to the AAA, a large gas-powered sedan will have an all-in operating cost (fuel, maintenance, repairs) of 22.26 cents per mile, which works out to about $3,400 annually for a car driven 15,000 miles. The economics of lifetime car ownership are a no-brainer when compared to a Tesla that requires no fuel and has a fraction of the internal moving parts that are the source of most car repairs.

The phasing out of the gasoline-powered personal vehicle represents arguably the most impactful – and achievable – change to human behavior that can meaningfully address the effects of climate change.

A study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University that was released just last month shows just how dramatic the economic, social, environmental, and health benefits would be in a world populated by more electric vehicles and less gas-powered ones. According to the report, if just 25% of combustion-engine vehicles in the U.S. were replaced by electric vehicles, then the U.S. would save almost $17B annually in reduced damages from climate change and air pollution. Using 2014 emissions data and the same year’s energy generation infrastructure, the researchers found that a 25% adoption rate of electric vehicles in the U.S. would have reduced carbon emissions by 250 million tons. There are over 1 billion passenger vehicles in operation around the world, yet less than 5 million of them are electric, so the room for growth is immense.

The battery innovations that Tesla is pursuing and the promise of a new $25,000 electric vehicle in the next 3 years are significant developments in what is still a nascent industry. While the U.S. government has dragged its feet in combating the effects of climate change in recent years, Tesla and other private companies have stepped into the void. Not only are Tesla’s innovations exciting to follow, but they may quite literally be the key to reversing the effects of climate change in the shortest amount of time. We should all be thankful for their unwavering commitment to sustainability.


Cover Photo Source: Mercury News

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Tesla Staying the Course https://solartribune.com/tesla-staying-the-course/ Fri, 31 Jul 2020 13:32:04 +0000 https://solartribune.com/?p=67969 Tesla is dealing with the same headwinds that have roiled the broader solar industry, and they are sure to take some lumps in 2020. However, the company’s enviable diversification and revamped approach to selling solar panels has them well-positioned to not just adapt, but thrive as we all adjust to the “new normal.” Panel Prices […]

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Tesla is dealing with the same headwinds that have roiled the broader solar industry, and they are sure to take some lumps in 2020. However, the company’s enviable diversification and revamped approach to selling solar panels has them well-positioned to not just adapt, but thrive as we all adjust to the “new normal.”

Panel Prices Slashed

Tesla got into the rooftop solar installation business in earnest back in 2016 through its acquisition of SolarCity, and today, Tesla ranks 3rd among national residential solar installers. However, the #1 ranked residential solar installer, Sunrun, recently announced plans to acquire the industry’s #2 ranked residential installer, Vivint. The move will effectively make the combined company and Tesla the top two residential solar installers in the country. The latest move in the solar arms race is likely to spur more competitive pricing for the average consumer as the two companies jockey for market share.

Even before the Sunrun-Vivint news broke, Tesla was making headway on reducing pricing for its solar panels. In a blog post from last month, Tesla announced their plans to cut the price of their solar panels so that they will be lower than the average industry price by about one-third. This comes on the heels of Tesla improving the efficiency of their solar panels by 10%, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Tesla’s reduced solar offerings are categorized by system size with the smallest 4.1 kW system running at just $7,400 after accounting for federal tax incentives.

Photo Source: Tesla

Tesla credits its solar panel price cut to a revamped ordering approach that shifts the process entirely to an online shopping format. This significantly reduces sales and marketing costs for the company and greatly eases the buying process for the consumer – a win-win for everyone. Tesla explains on their blog post:

“Our new pricing is made possible by several simple improvements to a decades-old industry. We made ordering and installing solar easy by moving to fixed sizes that customers can order with a single click online — no more need to spend hours in consultations reviewing old utility bills. More than 80% of our customers move forward with the standard size recommended by our website, and the move to a digital experience helped cut our sales and marketing costs by 64%.”

Photo Source: Tesla (screenshot of homepage)

Tesla also announced this month that their solar referral program will be getting more lucrative for the consumer. Improving the solar referral program seems to be something of a 2020 priority for Tesla. In January, the solar referral was improved to $250 for both the referrer and the new buyer, after previously being a $100 benefit. This month, Tesla announced that customers will receive $400 for each solar referral, and receive one Powerwall battery after successfully referring at least 10 new solar customers.

Solar Sales Slump Amid Pandemic

It is hard to know if Tesla’s recent push to revamp their solar pricing model and provide other inducements for customers is part of a long-planned strategy or an effort to get ahead of the pandemic-related downturn (I suspect the latter). Regardless, the company’s recent Q2 earnings report underscores just how tough 2020 is likely going to be for Tesla and other solar installers.

Tesla reported that rooftop solar installations declined by 7% year-over-year in Q2 2020. This is a somewhat significant drop in business given the fact that the Q2 2019 solar deployment figure of 29 MW was previously the company’s lowest quarter on record.

Image Source: Generated by Solar Tribune using Tesla Q2 earnings report data

The dip in solar deployment is obviously due to restrictions brought on by pandemic-induced shutdown orders from earlier this year. A noteworthy silver lining to the dip in residential solar deployment for Tesla is the fact that installations of Tesla’s niche Solar Roof product tripled from Q1 to Q2 in 2020. This growth is both a byproduct of increased consumer demand – thanks to a more optimized and affordable product – and the company’s increased production capacity. The New York Gigafactory where Solar Roof product is produced hit the pivotal 1,000 unit per week production mark back in March.

In many respects, Tesla is probably the best positioned company in the solar industry to adapt to an environment where traditional in-person solar sales are going by the wayside. While most other solar installers are scrambling to embrace an online-focused sales model, Tesla has been operating that way for some time now. It is possible that Tesla’s Q2 2020 showing – while its worst ever – will pale in comparison to what other major solar installers report for the quarter. Earnings for Sunrun and Vivint – to be revealed in coming weeks – will surely be watched closely.

Vehicle Sales Weather the Storm

On the vehicle front, the storyline was quite different. Tesla reported on their Q2 earnings report that they were able to see positive year-over-year growth in vehicle deliveries (Jan-May), all while the industry as a whole was down 30%. Tesla was the outlier in the industry, as the world’s other major automotive companies saw steep declines in vehicle production since the beginning of the year.

Photo Source: Tesla

Tesla’s ability to deliver over 90,000 vehicles in Q2 2020 is somewhat miraculous given that the company’s main facility in Fremont, CA was closed for nearly half of the quarter. The company is still committed to its pre-pandemic promise of delivering 500,000 electric vehicles to customers this year. To-date, they’ve delivered just under 180,000.

Company CEO, Elon Musk, is bullish on all things Tesla, so delivering 300,000 electric vehicles in just over 5 months is a tall order that he is happen to take on. In another sign of not letting current economic headwinds derail long-term goals, Musk and Tesla unveiled one of its most pivotal facility investments to-date when they recently announced plans to build a new Gigafactory near Austin, Texas. The new facility will span 4-5 million square feet and be tasked with producing the Cybertruck, as well as the Model 3 and Model Y for eastern U.S. deliveries.

The planned Austin facility joins a growing portfolio of auto parts facilities in the U.S., Europe, and China that are steadily enabling Tesla to achieve the economies of scale required for more efficient delivery of electric vehicles to all corners of the world.

Solar Storage Shows Promise

Musk’s dream for Tesla is and always has been to grow the company into a clean energy behemoth that is appropriately diversified across the electric vehicle, solar panel, and solar storage sectors. Even in the midst of an unprecedented global economic slowdown, the realization of that vision continues to show signs of progress. The positive momentum that Tesla is building with energy storage is perhaps the clearest indicator.

In their Q2 2020 earnings report, Tesla reported that total battery storage deployed in the quarter totaled 419 MWh, a 1% year-over-year increase and a significant 61.2% from the first quarter of the year.

Image Source: Generated by Solar Tribune using Tesla Q2 earnings report data

Of particular note is the fact that Tesla’s largest energy storage solution, Megapack, turned a quarterly profit for the first time after just being launched to market last year. The Megapack is capable of storing up to 3 MWh of electricity and is designed to be used by utility companies to supply the grid during periods of peak demand.

Photo Source: Tesla

Construction began just this month on a massive Tesla Megapack installation project in Monterey County, California for the state’s most prominent utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). The Moss Landing project consists of a total of 256 Megapack battery units that will collectively comprise a 182.5 MW/730 MWh energy storage system. PG&E and Tesla also have a contract in place for a subsequent 300 MW system to be built at a later date at the same location.

Once the Moss Landing Megapack project is completed, Tesla will lay claim to having the two largest lithium-ion storage projects in the world using their batteries, with the highly-acclaimed Hornsdale Power Reserve in Southern Australia finished earlier this year being the other.

Tesla’s naysayers like to discredit the company by referring to the company as “just” an automotive company. Musk has made it clear, however, that he is not content on building a global electric vehicle giant that just dabbles in solar panels and batteries. He is thoroughly committed to all three pillars that will stand up a more sustainable future for the world – electric vehicles, solar panels, and solar storage. On the Q2 earnings call, Musk reiterated this commitment stating that Tesla Energy will one day be just as big as the Tesla Auto division. When you consider that the Tesla Energy division currently has about one-tenth the of the revenues of its sister division, you begin to see the immense growth potential in company valuation and in global influence as Tesla helps to fuel a more rapid adoption of sustainable energy practices.

In sum, Tesla’s performance as a company through one of the most tumultuous economic periods in modern history is just another reminder that those who bet against Tesla do so at their own peril.


Cover Photo Source: Fortune.com

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Musk Steps Up to the Plate Amid Coronavirus Crisis https://solartribune.com/musk-steps-up-to-the-plate-amid-coronavirus-crisis/ Mon, 30 Mar 2020 18:24:45 +0000 https://solartribune.com/?p=67403 The United States is in the midst of a public health crisis, the likes of which the nation has never experienced before. Elon Musk is among an array of influential business leaders who are using their platform and business acumen to get critical healthcare equipment in the hands of frontline healthcare workers. By now, all […]

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The United States is in the midst of a public health crisis, the likes of which the nation has never experienced before. Elon Musk is among an array of influential business leaders who are using their platform and business acumen to get critical healthcare equipment in the hands of frontline healthcare workers.

By now, all Americans are well-acquainted with the scope and severity of the global pandemic that is the Coronavirus. What once seemed like an issue primarily isolated to far off lands has since come to America’s shores and entrenched itself in every U.S. state. As of the writing of this article, the United States has over 148,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases and over 2,600 virus-related deaths. No country in the world has more confirmed cases. Government-mandated “shelter-in-place” orders and outright community lockdowns at the local and state level have disrupted seemingly every aspect of American life. The exponential growth in cases in some of the hardest-hit communities – like New York City – has strained healthcare capacity and led to worrying concerns over shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators.

In the midst of the chaos, many leading U.S. manufacturers have stepped up to donate critical healthcare items and equipment. In some cases, companies have repurposed existing manufacturing facilities to manufacture things like ventilators in order to help meet the explosive demand for this life saving equipment.

Elon Musk, is one such business leader who has put their skills and influence to good use in an effort to help healthcare facilities stock up on ventilators and PPE. In early March, however, Musk – like many Americans – didn’t yet realize the gravity of the Coronavirus situation or the enormity of the public health crisis that would soon present itself in the United States. In a March 6th tweet, Musk quipped that “the coronavirus panic is dumb.” Two days later, Musk described the fatality rate from the disease as being “greatly overstated.” By the end of the month, Musk had done a complete 180 and pledged to use his business chops and engineering expertise to do everything he could to help the country battle the Coronavirus.

March 18 & 19:

  • In an odd reminder of the power of Twitter, Musk promised in a Twitter exchange with Fivethirtyeight’s Nate Silver and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio that Tesla would welcome the opportunity to manufacture ventilators for New York if a shortage of existing ones became imminent.

March 22:

March 23:

March 25:

  • Musk announced that Tesla’s factory in Buffalo, New York would be retooled to produce ventilators “as soon as humanly possible.” The facility was previously forced to shut down following its designation as a “nonessential” business that was impacted by the statewide shutdown. Musk stated further that Tesla “will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”

March 27:

  • Musk donated hundreds of ventilators to the state of New York that would eventually find their way to hospitals in New York City and throughout the state. Mayor of NYC Bill de Blasio expressed his appreciation for Musk on Twitter:

The United States is facing an unprecedented public health crisis that will require both a coordinated government response and a commitment among the public to heed the CDC’s “social distancing” guidance. The generosity of influential business leaders like Elon Musk, however, is a major differentiating factor that the country has at its disposal compared to other countries battling the invisible Coronavirus enemy. While the Coronavirus has all but halted Tesla’s whole business, Elon Musk has embraced a philanthropic mindset as he helps get critical healthcare equipment in the hands of the healthcare workers that need it most. Musk may have been a skeptic initially, but his renewed commitment to leading by example in a time of crisis is admirable. Hopefully his leadership inspires other business leaders to follow suit. Keep up the good work, Elon!


Cover photo source: Vox.com

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