"This was our mission: to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy." - JB Straubel, CTO of Tesla Motors
Most know Tesla for their sleek electric vehicles delivering a cutting-edge, innovative luxury that the automotive industry has never seen before.
The CEO and founder of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, is well known for driving the company into a so-far untouched individuality. The company spends a grand total of $0 on marketing and can't make cars fast enough for demand. The vehicles can only be bought at Tesla dealerships, and in addition to manufacturing their electric vehicles, Tesla is constructing a $5 billion battery factory to supply its vehicles and energy storage products, as well as building out a global network of supercharger stations and service centers.
As Tesla continues to blaze its own trail in the automotive industry, they are also beginning to power their way into the housing industry. With the launch of the Tesla Powerwall Home Battery and the merger with SolarCity , the company hopes to help its consumers reach "complete sustainability" by using solar panels and the Powerwall home battery to reduce electricity bills, and potentially take homes off of the commercial power grid entirely.
Just last week the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Tesla, JB Straubel, gave a remarkable Keynote speech at the first HIVE (Housing Innovation Vision & Economics) Event in LA put on by Hanley Wood Media .
There, he spoke about the intuition behind the company's decision-making, which has pushed them into success, as well as the future of the company as they attempt to take their innovation into the housing industry.
"He's the kind of talent we need in housing," said Editorial Director of Hanley Wood Media as he introduced Straubel. "He's excited by these things that cause us fear and this sense of risk. He's excited by these great challenges that he faces, and excited about the prospect that disruption is something he is doing not just because he can, but because he feels like he should."
Before the word "disruption" was coined by the start-up world, it came with more of a negative connotation. Today, start-ups almost aim to ensure that their company will reach Tesla's level of complete market disruption, or ground-breaking innovation.
During his keynote, Straubel noted that completely re-inventing, or disrupting, the automotive industry wasn't exactly what they set out to do...
"We never intended to go out and disrupt a bunch of things, we just really wanted to make things better, we wanted to make better cars and we wanted to follow technology and see what it could do."
When Tesla first began, they saw the rising temperatures and levels of CO2 resulting from vast amounts of burning fossil fuels, and they knew that some of the biggest industries were going to need to completely change their infrastructure.
"You know, as an engineer I think I'm lucky to be alive at a time when we are faced to reinvent the whole infrastructure of our society. That's a fun challenge and a fun problem in engineering." Straubel said.
We are lucky he is alive during this time as well. Straubel helped to engineer the car that could finally compete with gasoline cars.
"In the early 2000's, starting an electric vehicle company in Silicon Valley was pretty crazy... something that pretty much everyone told us was a bad idea. We had to change the stigma on electric vehicles."
Rechargeable Lithium ion batteries used in automobiles were considered far from safe at the time, and no other car company could build an electric car with a range further than 80 miles.
But, Tesla boldly accepted the challenge and today you can safely drive up to 315 miles on a full charge with the Model S, and there are more and more charging stations being built across the North America.
Today, the Model S is the quickest production vehicle in the world with speed capabilities from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds. The Model X SUV version comfortably seats 7 and has 5,000 pound tow rig. Tesla's electric vehicles are well on their way to surpassing the functionality and suave of many luxury gasoline cars. The key now is to make them affordable.
" Our vision is to figure out how to get all cars electric. The key to that is reducing the cost. " said Straubel.
This drove Tesla to releasing the Model 3 earlier this year for $35,000 with a range of 215 miles per charge. This release ended up resulting in the most successful product launch in history . Tesla took in around $10 billion of backlog for the Model 3 in just one week.
Not un-accustomed to the the taste of massive success Tesla is now setting out to have the same type of ground-breaking success in residential home energy.
As seen in the video above, the Powerwall home battery saves stored energy gathered from the solar panels and uses that energy during peak electrical times saving enormously on an energy bill. Currently, the Powerwall can only be installed with SolarCity solar panels, though Straubel says Tesla is working on solving that so it's compatible with any type of solar panel installation. Currently most Powerwall batteries have been installed in Germany and Australia.
The installation of solar panels alone can drive up the value of a home pretty significantly. According to research , each $1 saved on your energy bill can add $20 to the value of your home. In states like California, a mid-size home with a solar panel installation can get an increased value of as much as $18,000 with a small 3 kW installation. With a larger 5 kW installation, the increased value can be as much as $30,000.
While it may seem far off now, the potential behind the idea makes Tesla's ideal world of complete sustainable energy just one step closer.
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