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Monday, July 11, 2016

How Model 3 Success Forced Tesla to Buy SolarCity Now

Tesla Model 3 via Motor Trend
Elon Musk has made it clear that Tesla's mission is "to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport." Notice that it's not just "sell Tesla vehicles" or even "sell electric cars".  Sustainable is the keyword in this sentence. Sustainable transportation must to be fueled by renewable energy.*

The overwhelming success of the Tesla Model 3 launch was a surprise to all but the most optimistic fans. Tesla received about 380,000 preorders in the first week, whereas they expected only one quarter as many. When electric vehicles breakout, go viral, hit the tipping-point,... it is important that they are fueled by renewable energy.

As we have discussed before, solar energy and electric vehicles have a large overlap in customers. People buying electric cars today are the perfect potential solar customers. These are the conantur, the matutine cognitia. They see what is coming and they want to be part of the solution. Many of them own their own homes. Meaning that in addition to a garage (with a charging station), they also have a roof. Additionally, these are people in the new car market, so many of them have the income, or means, to consider other products such as Powerwall or solar.

Awareness, will, and means results in action. In this case, that action is to buy and EV and fuel it with solar energy generated from their own roofs.


Awareness, will, and means results in action.


The move to buy SolarCity has been decried by many reservation holders as a distraction from all the work that must be done to bring the Model 3 to market. If Tesla had planned on the their next generation of vehicles to be their mainstream breakout car, then they could have waited to start selling renewable energy, but it appears that Model 3 is the start of the hockey stick curve.

This means that Tesla has to be able to offer solar to people as they order and become Model 3 drivers. If Tesla cannot offer this service, then they are not delivering on the sustainable transport mission that they have had since founding the company. Or if they wait a year after Model 3 is shipping, that is hundreds of thousands of potential solar customers that they let slip past. And it is not just the number of people. These are exactly the people that are the right people to inspire their friends, family, and neighbors. These are the people that ordered a Model 3 before they ever touched one, sat in it, or drove it. They are the early adopters and their enthusiasm will inspire the early majority.

Before they ever delivered their first car, this was the vision. If it disappoints you that they are taking steps to fulfill it, then you don't understand Tesla's vision, goals, or mission.

* You could argue that nuclear is sustainable and CO2-free (Pandora's Promise), but let's not get off-topic.