Tesla CEO Elon Musk was his usual effusive self in describing demand for his company’s new Powerwall home batteries for storing home solar energy, unveiled last week at a splashy event outside Los Angeles. He called the 38, 000 pre-orders “crazy off the hook” while acknowledging that his company’s production can’t keep up.
“There’s like no way we could possibly satisfy demand this year, ” Musk told analysts Wednesday during its first-quarter earnings call. “We’re basically sold out through the middle of next year.”
Musk is making good on his promise to revolutionize the auto industry with his electric carmaking upstart. Now he has set his sights on another target: energy.
Musk’s long-term vision for Tesla Energy is bold—he expects global sales and to “fundamentally change the way the world uses energy.” But even he seemed surprised by interest in the energy storage products. The level of demand has been so large the executive team is investigating whether it should boost capacity for stationary storage battery packs at its so-called “gigafactory” currently under construction near Reno, Nev.
In addition to home batteries, Tesla has come up with a bigger battery for commercial use and utilities, called Powerpack. Customers have pre-ordered 2, 500 of those. Musk cast the demand as a bit deceiving. He described the reservations as the equivalent of 25, 000 packs because a typical utility or heavy industrial customer would require at least 10 of the packs.
Using a somewhat similar calculation, Tesla expects the average home customer to order 1.5 to 2 of its smaller Powerwall units. If that prediction is correct, that would mean orders for as many as 60, 000 Powerwall home battery packs.
About one-third of the battery pack production capacity at the gigafactory has been reserved for energy storage. However, Musk said the company could increase that capacity by as much as 50% because of unexpectedly high demand.
“The sheer volume of demand is just staggering, ” he said. “We could easily have the entire gigafactory just do storage.”
Even if Tesla does boost capacity, battery packs for the Model S and the highly anticipated Model X SUV are still the priority, Musk added.
Powerwall, a sleek suitcase-sized lithium-ion battery designed for homeowners to store energy, comes in 7 kilowatt-hour and 10 kWh sizes. Both units are meant to be combined with solar panels. The 10 kWh home unit is designed as a source of backup power, while 7 kWh-unit can be used daily to extend the environmental and cost benefits of solar after the sun has gone down.
You might also like:
Elon Musk: 10 Lessons In Business, Innovation And Entrepreneurship From The Self-Made Billionaire And Visionary (Tesla, SpaceX, And The Quest For A Fantastic Future)