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What could ‘Tesla 2.0’ mean for SMEs?

What could ‘Tesla 2.0’ mean for SMEs?

Tesla chief executive and renowned entrepreneur Elon Musk took to Twitter at the weekend to tease what he’s labelled as ‘Top Secret Tesla Masterplan, Part 2’.

Social media was immediately awash with speculation as to what that masterplan might entail and, given Musk’s eccentric and eclectic past – other ventures of his include the reusable SpaceX vehicle and a Hyperloop (read: high-speed monorail) that would link Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Musk’s revelation also comes at an interesting time for the company. Its gigafactory is nearing completion, Powerwall installations are ramping up internationally and pre-orders for its latest vehicle – the Model 3 – have continued to climb.

And yet, all the while, Musk’s offer to bolt on the US’ largest domestic solar installer in SolarCity has received largely mixed reviews. One man’s genius example of interested parties integrating is another’s act of nepotistic charity. Tesla’s share price fell nearly 11% in the wake of the offer, but has gradually rebounded.

As controversial a business decision it might be, Musk’s interest in acquiring SolarCity could glean some insight into what he has up his sleeve for later this week. Indeed, Musk even hinted as such in a reply to fellow clean tech entrepreneur Jigar Shah.

Shah’s blog suggests that Tesla could piece together a solar, storage, electric vehicle and energy efficiency package targeted at homes across the US, a package which, Shah predicts, could result in Tesla turning over as much as US$470 billion if it can achieve the same kind of penetration similar products have achieved in Australia.

Such a package would undoubtedly offer much to energy-conscious consumers, but could Musk think bigger and target business customers as well?

There is evidence of a growing appetite for solar-plus-storage amongst British businesses as they have become more aware of their emissions and the savings on offer from embracing renewables and offsetting their exposure to peak-time pricing.

Cuts to the renewables feed-in tariff and other incentives might have had severe implications for how the investment numbers add up, and it is true solar PV is less economical as a standalone product than it once was. This has resulted in an unsurprising shortfall in demand, most notably in the 10-50kW bracket that yet again failed to meet its deployment expectation in Q2.

Tesla’s brand presence could easily knock down some doors, especially when coupled with the knowledge that financing models are delivering much more attractive returns when multiple products are batched together. Companies with extensive warehouses, after-hours demand and a fleet of delivery vehicles could easily make significant reductions to their demand and energy bills by adopting such a system.

The renewables industry will await Musk’s latest revelation but, should it feature along the lines Shah suggests, investors still critical of a move for SolarCity might just come around.