Does Tesla Have the Right Idea Here?

The first Tesla solar powered ‘town’ is ready. And it’s right here, in Melbourne.

YarraBend is only 4 km from the CBD. It will have 2,500 living units. All powered with solar panels and Tesla Powerwall solar batteries. The houses, townhouses and apartments will also have electric car charging stations.

Glenvill, a local property developer, is designing and building the project. It estimates that YarraBend houses will use 34% less energy. It is one of the most sustainable developments in Australia.

Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA] is dominating the news. Today, SolarCity accepted Tesla’s US$3.5 billion offer to buy the company. Shares for both companies fell shortly after the announcement.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Tesla’s offer is only half of SolarCity’s value a year ago. Price has decreased due to the company’s slowdown in growth. And the increased scrutiny of government incentive for rooftop solar.

S&P has put Tesla’s credit rating on Credit Watch. S&P believes that the company will face significant risks related to the sustainability of the company’s capital structure following the proposed transaction’.

Many believe that the merger will weaken Tesla. But the move is all part the company’s ambitious plan. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk unveiled the second part of this plan a few weeks ago.

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Tesla’s Objectives

From Tesla’s blog:

  1. Create stunning solar roofs with integrated battery storage
  2. Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments
  3. Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning.
  4. Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it.

Point 1 of the plan was already accomplished with Tesla Powerwall. And it is clear that the acquisition of SolarCity will help them expand on this aim.

But it is on objectives 2–4 where things get interesting.  Tesla is planning to get into the more popular and profitable SUV market. And onto the passenger market by developing self-driven buses and trucks.

The last goal is the most ambitious. Have your self-driven car make money for you while you are asleep or at work. That is, compete with Uber.

With this plan, Tesla is dabbling into four technologies. Technologies that Stanford University lecturer Tony Seba thinks will change the future of transportation. These are: solar power, battery storage, electric cars and self-driving cars.

According to Seba, cars spend 96% of their time parked. And when we use an asset only 4% of the time, it’s a disruption waiting to happen. By 2030, cars will be completely electric, powered by solar energy and self-driving. He also thinks that individual car ownership will be obsolete.

Science fiction? Seba’s theory may have been incredible a few years ago. But you only need to look at what companies around you are doing to see that this reality may be closer than you think.

Oil companies like French Oil and Shell are investing in new energies. GM and Lyft — a ride-sharing company — have united to test self-driving taxis. Even Uber is working on its own self-driving car.

Tesla will be purchasing SolarCity, a clean energy business. And it may give Tesla the upper hand on the transformation of the transport sector.


Selva Freigedo,
For Markets and Money

PS: Selva recently joined the Port Phillip Publishing team as our macroeconomic analyst. She works closely with Markets and Money editor Vern Gowdie on his advisory service,The Gowdie Letter.

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