Tesla CEO Elon Musk has once again tweeted out tantalising news about the company.
Musk announced that the company will introduce a “new product line” on April 30 at its Hawthorne, California facility.
But there’s a catch.
It won’t be a new car.
So what could it be?
Some Tesla observers are convinced that it will be a battery, based on the design that powers the company’s automobiles, yet large enough to keep the lights on at a home. Business Insider’s Jay Yarow wrote about this back in February.
On a conference call at the time, Musk proclaimed that his company will “unveil the Tesla home battery, the consumer battery that would be for use in people’s houses or businesses fairly soon.”
Major new Tesla product line — not a car — will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2015
“We have the design done, and it should start going into production in about six months or so,” Musk told Bloomberg. “It’s really great.”
It makes perfect sense that it would be a great big battery? But what if it isn’t?
If Tesla intends to market a home battery, probably in connection with SolarCity, a company that Musk serves as Chairman, then it’s going to need to ramp up production at its Nevada Gigafactory. (SolarCity already uses Tesla batteries.)
The Gigafactory is slated to manufacture enough lithium-ion battery cells to power 500,000 Tesla cars by 2020.
Right now, the Gigafactory is under construction, so whatever non-automotive battery production Tesla makes use of will have to come from existing li-ion cell providers.
So we don’t think it would be possible for Tesla to build very many batteries, at least not right away. Plus, Tesla presumably needs all the batteries it can get to satisfy its vehicle needs, if it wants to deliver 55,000 cars this year.
But what about using your Tesla as a sort of backup power source for your home? That’s a possibility — making your Tesla Model S into a power source, when it’s not being driven around. Nissan enables owners to do this with the Leaf electric vehicles.
So maybe a stand-alone home battery, maybe not. But most likely, something on the battery-backup power front.
In any case, Musk has given us a month’s notice to ponder what the new product would be. Let’s hope he provides some additional insight. The April 30 event will take place just a few days before Tesla releases its first-quarter 2015 earnings.
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