Saturday, October 15, 2016

Elon Musk's Innovative Vison and Tesla's Sustainability Leadership (Videos)

There are very few companies that have a more expansive green mission than Tesla.  We cannot mention Tesla without mentioning its owner and CEO,  Elon Musk. He is not just an innovative genius, he is a world leading champion of the low carbon economy.  Musk has instilled a vision for Tesla the encompasses a wide range of climate friendly products. This includes electric vehicles, home battery technology and solar energy.


Tesla is building a fleet of fully electric vehicles. It was only a decade ago that Musk revealed his plan to translate the revenues from the company's first production vehicle, the Roadster, a pricey low volume car into a cheaper medium volume car at a lower price, the Model S. The end game for Musk was always an affordable, high volume car, the soon to be released Model 3. More than a third of a million buyers have already put down $1,000 deposits for the Model 3 even though it will be at least a year before they can take delivery.

Tesla does more than just make phenomenal cars, they intend to provide vehicles for every segment of the automotive market including a compact SUV, the Model X crossover. They are also going to start making trucks (a pickup and a semi) and buses.

Added value

Tesla's zero emission vehicles provide industry leading range and extraordinary performance. The proposed Tesla Semi will reduce the cost of cargo transport, and increase safety.Their autonomous buses will reduce gridlock by flowing seamlessly with traffic. The bus will also hold more passengers than traditional buses by eliminating the center aisle to accommodate more seats.

Musk said that Tesla's self-driving vehicles are 10 times safer than traditional vehicles due to their fleet learning capabilities. The companies pilot-less driving technology will also support plans for large scale car sharing. Musk has indicated that his car sharing program will enable people to make money from their cars when the owners are not driving. Tesla will launch vehicles with solar roofs and "seamlessly integrated battery storage".

Renewable energy and storage

Elon Musk is among the most stalwart advocates of renewable energy in the world today.  He is also a global leader in battery technology which are the key to making renewables work on a massive scale. In addition to the half million batteries Tesla says it will produce for vehicle applications by 2018, the company is also leading the stationary battery segment.

Tesla has launched a home and business battery to store renewable energy. Released to great fanfare in 2015, Tesla's stationary storage division's lithium-ion battery technology for the home is called Powerwall (5-10 kilowatts) and the commercial or grid application is called Powerpack (1 megawatt or more). At the end of April, Lucus Mearian wrote in a Computer World article that Tesla's battery sales in the first quarter of 2016 had "dwarfed" battery sales for the whole of 2015. So far the company has garnered well over a billion dollars in sales for its battery unit.

The importance of stationary battery storage solutions cannot be overstated in the drive towards an entirely renewable energy grid. Energy storage solves the problem of intermittency by enabling solar and wind to continue to provide power at night when the sun is not shining or during periods when the wind is not blowing. The only issue preventing widespread adoption of such battery technologies is price. However price points for energy storage have been declining rapidly and they are expected to keep falling.

As reported by Ken Silverstein an Energy Manager Today article, Musk is at the center of these declining price points for storage. He has indicated that his $5 billion, 10 million square foot "gigafactory" located just outside Reno, Nevada could bring down the costs of advanced batteries by more than 30 percent. Musk is planning to launch a series of gigantic battery plants around the world which will contribute to further price declines in the battery sector.

Check out this full video tour posted by Electric Motors Club and get an insiders look at the new factory.

Tesla recently entered the power generation market with its $2.6 billion acquisition of SolarCity. This new joining of corporate minds will enable Tesla to bring more electricity from renewables direct to consumers and onto the grid.

As explained by Dan Taylor in another Energy Manager Today article, Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, is good for the solar business. The optics alone will help advance the growth of the solar industry.  Ken Munson, the CEO of Sunverge said the acquisition, "shines a huge spotlight on the industry," he goes on to say, "there is real money to be made from the investment perspective and value from the consumer perspective. Now is the time you can have societal impact."

Forthcoming announcements

Tesla is planning a mysterious product unveiling on Monday October 17. Musk claimed on Twitter, that the unveiling would be, "unexpected by most." According to Engaget the announcement may reveal, either the final design for the $35,000 all electric Tesla Model 3 or something to do with the autopilot software it is developing (Musk says Tesla will make fully autonomous cars by 2018). Alternately the unveiling may announce a longer range battery. No one knows for sure except Musk himself.

This unveiling will take place ahead of another announcement scheduled with SolarCity for October 28, when it is expected Musk will reveal a solar roof and the long-awaited Powerwall 2.0 that will include an integrated Tesla charger.

Musk has indicated that Tesla will start manufacturing fully electric heavy-duty trucks (a semi and a pickup) and buses scheduled for launch in 2017.

Innovation and diversification

Tesla has an innovative "masterplan". The company has expanded its business model way beyond electric cars. One of the keys to their strategy is pairing their advanced battery technology with solar power. There is even a Tesla Town in Australia where every home is outfitted with a solar roof and a Powerwall.

Innovations range from small things like a "bioweapon defense mode," in the updated model S, to a revolutionary business model that is both good for the climate and the bottom line. 

Innovation is the beating heart of Tesla's diversification strategy.  Musk has reportedly said,
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

Tesla's innovations are now so diverse that the company has decided to drop the word "Motors" from the iconic brand's name.

To get a sense for just how grand Musk's vision is consider his intention to build a spacecraft capable of landing people on Mars.

Driving competition

Demand makes Tesla the Apple of the auto-industry and the envy of automakers. What Tesla does others will follow. Mercedes-Benz unveiled its own self-driving bus and GM is launching the Chevy Bolt, a self-driving, reasonably priced electric vehicle that will compete with the Model 3. Porsche is trying taking on the Tesla Model S with its Mission E concept and Audi is taking on the Model X crossover with its new e-tron quattro concept. Audi also has the self-driving R8 e-tron electric car.

Musk leads the way

What Musk has done in the auto industry is truly revolutionary.  While major American automakers where struggling to design a quality electric vehicle, Tesla showed them how it is done.  Musk's great gift to the automotive world is the fact that he is disrupting Detroit's tired old business model.

In a Green Car Reports article, John Voelcker quotes Savvy industry observer and commentator Daniel Howes who said, "The disruption of Detroit has a name...and it’s Tesla Motors Inc."

What Musk is doing extends well beyond the American automotive industry.  The real power of Musk's effort are a function of the market impact created through the synergy of combining electric vehicles, battery technology and renewable energy.  Bloomberg's Tom Randall  explained it this way:

"Renewable energy and electric cars create a virtuous cycle of demand growth... The scale-up of electric cars increases demand for renewable energy and drives down the cost of batteries. And as those costs fall, batteries can increasingly be used to store solar power."

Musk's leadership is invaluable he has created a united, all-inclusive green business. His efforts are not only philanthropic, he has created a business model that others are sure to follow.

The End of fossil fuels

To realize Musk's dream of a decarbonized economy we will need to end fossil fuel use. Electric cars, battery storage, and solar power are the trifecta needed to win the fight against an entrenched fossil fuel industry.

Musk is developing a range of products that are designed to move the world towards a sustainable future that is free of fossil fuels.

Musk is leading efforts to transition the world to renewable energy and sustainable transportation. He is seeking to decarbonize the global economy and through his leadership the business community has come to realize the scale of the commercial opportunities associated with the green economy. 

Musk's noble endeavor is reflected in a recent article by Matt Pressman, published in EV Annex. The title reads, "Tesla Poised To Deliver Knockout Punch To Fossil Fuels In The Next Decade." 

Tesla's stated mission is to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy and that precludes fossil fuels.  — that flies directly in the face of carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

Musk is to be credited for helping to make electric vehicles, battery storage and renewable energy mainstream. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is related to the fact that he is helping to end the climate killing fossil fuel industry. For this the world owes Musk a debt of gratitude.

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