Tesla’s Powerwall & Powerpack sales add up to $US1B – without marketing

Tesla’s residential Powerwall batteries and larger-scale Powerpacks have already notched up $US1 billion worth of sales, and the California-based EV maker says its delivery book to early 2017 is already booked out.

And according to Tesla founder Elon Musk, that’s with no marketing, no advertising and no sales force to speak of. “Really, we’re not trying to sell it,” he told an analysts briefing last week.

Musk is predicting up to $US45 million in stationary storage sales in the fourth quarter of this year, as much as 10  times that number in the following year, and 10 times again in 2017, meaning a “few billion” in sales in 2017.

“That growth rate is probably going to just, keep going at quite a nutty level,” he said. “It’s probably at least a few billion dollars in 2017, somewhat speculative at this point, but I think that’s likely. So it’s sort of growing by half order of magnitude to an order of magnitude per year.”

Interestingly, 70 per cent of the sales are for the larger Powerpack, the 100kWh systems that would likely be used by businesses or utilities.

That is a function of the fact that those customers are likely to order as many as 100 or 200 of those systems. Indeed, one customer ordered 250 of these systems, which sell for $US25,000 each, or $US250 per kilowatt-hour.

Tesla says it is surprised at how strong demand has been on the retail side. “In terms of unit volume, the Powerwall would be the greatest,” Musk says.

He noted that in countries such as Australia, where there are time-of-use payment systems, the Powerwall is already making sense to individual consumers cost of delivery is reflected in the cost. Elsewhere, it was a matter of finding value in the system.

“The fundamental economics of cost are always true, meaning that there’s always a cost advantage to someone – to a system-wide implementation of stationary storage, because of the high peak to trough electricity usage.

“So, if you have buffering, which is what stationary storage allows for, then you only need your power plants to operate at the average energy usage, which means that you can basically, in principle, shutdown half of the world’s power plants if you had stationary storage.

“This is independent of renewable energy. It does not matter whether you have solar panels, this is just being able to shut down half of your power plants if you have buffering, because you can then have your power plant output at the average of what is needed by the consumers.”

But he noted, “at grid parity, the market is staggeringly gigantic.”

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson