Tesla is hosting an event this coming Friday in L.A., and it’s doing so in tandem with SolarCity. This will be a sort of preview of what we can expect from the companies once they combine into one under the Tesla umbrella, which should happen soon, provided investors are on board. We know that Tesla will show off a new roofing material with integrated solar panels, with an integrated Powerwall 2.0 home energy storage solution and Tesla charger, because Elon Musk told us so — but we don’t know what else we might see.
The solar roofing solution is something that Musk has discussed a number of times, including first during a SolarCity conference call and then on Twitter, and most recently during Tesla’s own earnings call on October 26. The big difference between this and past solar panel offerings from SolarCity is that these are designed to replace traditional roofing materials, not be added on after the fact. Musk has said that this means they expect it won’t appeal as a retrofit solution, but will instead appeal more to new builds or those due for rooftop replacement.
On Tuesday’s Q3 Tesla earnings call, Musk said that he believes the solar roof material “looks better than a normal roof.” He teased that “you’ll be quite impressed by what we debut on Friday,” saying “it’s exceeded [his] expectations” and concluding that he “thinks it’s really great” before stopping himself from saying more in the interest of preserving the surprise.
Musk’s plan includes an initial goal of replacing some 5 million rooftops in the U.S. with Tesla’s solar-gathering alternative, and all of this is part of his “Master Plan,” which has always included “Provide solar power” as one of his goals. Part 2, revealed in July, includes this as one of four new goals.
Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage
That brings us to Powerwall 2.0, which is the battery storage portion of that equation. Tesla’s first Powerwall debuted in April 2015, and offered home storage for either 7 kWh or 10 kWh for $3,000 and $3,500, respectively.
The revision to Powerwall set to be unveiled at Friday’s event should be flatter than the previous edition, and shown and sold in Tesla stores, rather than exclusively via distributors, as reported by Electrek. The site has also previously reported that Tesla plans to double the storage capacity of the new version of the power pack, and produce them in greater volume.
If Tesla can increase capacity while keeping costs at or near level, that would be a terrific accomplishment and a big incentivizing factor to help expand sales to a broader group of potential customers. Storage is a key component of a self-sufficient solar electric power system for the home, and greater capacity also helps ensure your Tesla vehicle can take full advantage of the system, too.
The new charger could be integrated directly into the Powerwall 2.0 as an option, which could help improve the speed of charging, depending on how it’s drawing and supplying current to the connected Tesla vehicle.
There’s also a possibility that it could then act as a virtual extension of the Powerwall, Electrek theorizes, feeding energy back into the grid in instances where it would do more good in your home than in your car, during a power outage for example.
Tesla has previously previewed a prototype charger that uses an articulating robotic arm to automatically find your Tesla’s charging port and plug in, but we haven’t heard much about that since the company showed a video of it in operation in August 2015. Musk recently tweeted that video, however, while discussing how a fully self-driving Tesla equipped with the company’s new sensor suite and on-board computer could drive itself across the U.S. on demand.
It would be great if the snake charger was part of the system unveiled at this event, but we don’t have any strong indication it will at this point.
This might be the best look we’ve ever had at what Elon Musk’s Master Plan looks like taken in totality, so it’s definitely worth checking out. TechCrunch will have live coverage of the event as it happens, so check back on October 28 for much more.