Since Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, the company’s mission slightly changed from “accelerating the advent of electric transport” to “accelerating the advent of sustainable energy”. The company wants to offer solutions throughout the entire energy production and consumption process.
At a conference last week, a Tesla executive explained the company’s vision for managing all that energy across all their products.
Kurt Kelty, Tesla’s longtime director of battery technology, was in Florida last week to give a keynote address at the International Battery Seminar.
During his presentation, he explained Tesla’s vision of energy management in future houses (transcript via evannex):
“Where we see the future [is] in houses [and] we want to be your EV provider. Put your EV in your garage and you charge it up with one of our chargers, you have a powerwall… [and] a solar product [solar roof] that we’ll be introducing this summer. You [can] see how this could integrate well in your house. You have solar, battery pack, the EV and you’ve got all the controls on your cell phone and you could control everything. This is the kind of future we see for [your] house.”
That’s similar to the vision shared by CEO Elon Musk when he first suggested Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity in order to have a single company offering electricity generation, through solar products, storage, through Powerwall and Powerpacks, and consumption, through Tesla’s electric vehicles.
Kelty then explained the “tremendous database” of charge and discharge that Tesla is accumulating through its battery products. He said that they are getting “7.5 GWh hours of usage” from their customers:
“We’re getting this data in real time from them in terms of how our customers are using our vehicle, how they charge and discharge… so we’ve got a tremendous database.”
It looks like that could be outdated data since the slide he was showing accounted only for “90,000+ vehicles” and “1.5 billion miles”, when we know that Tesla has now a fleet of ~200,000 vehicles and more than 4 billion miles (picture via evannex):
He added that the data is useful and transferable between Tesla’s energy storage in vehicles and stationary energy storage (Powerwalls and Powerpacks):
“I’m pointing this out because there’s a lot of know-how that we’ve developed over the years that is transferable between our vehicles and energy storage systems.”
Kelty, who worked for years at Tesla’s battery manufacturer Panasonic before joining the automaker, had a lot of praise for his former employer and explained how they work well together for the development of their new 2170 battery cells:
“We co-developed and optimized the [battery] chemistry and form factor… [and] Panasonic is unbeatable in terms of their manufacturing capability, they know how to manufacture things with high quality, consistency, reliably and for a reasonable, low cost. They’ve got a set way of working that really works well for them and then we come in and it’s just oddball, crazy ideas… [but] the combination of the very conservative [Panasonic] and just crazy [Tesla] works very well for the two companies.”
In January, Panasonic started manufacturing the new battery cell at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. While they have developed other cells together in the past and Panasonic has been manufacturing Tesla’s batteries for almost a decade, the Gigafactory is their biggest collaboration yet.
Kelty added that the goal is to bring down the cost per kWh and they are now focused on that throughout the entire supply chain as they are about to significantly ramp up production for the launch of the Model 3 in July.