Mercedes home batteries are a potential rival for Tesla’s Powerwall

The batteries developed for the high demands of all-electric Mercedes-Benz cars are finding a new application as in-home energy storage units. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s a lot like the Tesla Powerwall.

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler AG announced that the storage units are being manufactured by its subsidiary Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE (Daimler has a real love of all caps). The batteries are being sold, installed and supported by partners like utility and solar tech companies. That makes sense, because the storage units are usually installed along with solar panels. The units are already available in Germany, and Mercedes says it will be expanding the program internationally.

Up to eight of the columnar 2.5 kWh lithium-ion battery modules can be combined, with a maximum capacity of 20 kWh all together. According to Mercedes, this is enough to capture surplus solar power for later use with “virtually no losses.” The price of the units hasn’t been disclosed, since it can include several components: the unit itself (or two or three), maybe some photovoltaic panels and the installation.

Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE has been making units like this since 2015 for industrial uses. The systems were designed to be scalable; thus the quick entry into the private home market. Daimler is banking on its energy storage subsidiary in a big way — it’s invested more than $500 million in a second battery factory at the Deutsche ACCUMOTIVE site that will begin operating in the summer of 2017.

As a comparison, the Tesla Energy Powerwall serves the same purpose, with arguably more style. The Powerwall has 6.4 kWh of energy storage “for daily cycle applications,” according to the website. Like the Mercedes units, these can be installed in multiples for solar systems that need to store more energy. We do know how much the Powerwall costs — $3,500. We also know that demand was high, with a reported 38,000 reservations when the Powerwall was announced last year. That level of demand seems to leave plenty of room for a competitor like Daimler AG to jump in with its road-tested battery technology this year.