Tesla isn't a damned car company (2 min. read)
Having lived through the constant reporting that heralded the next “Netflix killer”, everyone from Blockbuster to Verizon, I can say without a doubt that most who proclaim these notions either weren’t seeing the bigger picture, or lack the details that are critical to being able to make that call.
Enter the supposed “Tesla-killers”. Apple may be working on an electric car, Chevy will put their Bolt into production, and even Porsche is making an electric car. If the reporting is to be believed, Tesla is doomed.
Except of course it isn’t.
It’s not that Tesla is a perfect company, it’s that they aren’t only in the car business. Let’s take a look at what they do..
And they’ve also committed to building a massive new battery plant in Nevada. The conventional wisdom being that the plant is merely to build batteries for all those cars they’re selling.
So far they look, sound, and act like a car company. But then something interesting happened.
They gave away all of their patents. One could assume that this was to help the fledgling electric car industry grow and, in a sense, they’d be right.
But in a recent earnings call, CEO Elon Musk made a comment that they were going to start selling batteries that could power a house. Suddenly the patent altruism made a lot of sense.
Take all of that information and add the fact that Musk is Chairman of SolarCity and suddenly a different view of Tesla emerges. See? They’re not a just a car company; they’re a vertically integrated power company.
Yes, they sell electric cars. But by giving away their patents they’ve encouraged other manufacturers to get in the game quicker. That will increase the volume of electric cars on the road, which in-turn, drives more demand for electricity from a grid that is already overworked.
Enter solar and home batteries. If homes can reap and retain solar power they’ll demand less from the grid. Better yet, it will mean that instead of a grid that flows mostly one way, each home will have the ability to power its life. This is great from a consumer standpoint (power when you need it at a reduced cost), great from a distribution of power sources standpoint (we’re less susceptible to attacks that could wipe out operations for huge areas), and great from an infrastructure standpoint (no need to spend billions on trying to overhaul or replace all of the antiquated grid).
Yes, not every home will be able to afford a battery and solar panels (yet), but think about how unburdened the grid becomes by those who can. Meaning the grid can be updated and tweaked but without a metaphorical gun to its head.
All of that is why there is no “Tesla-killer”. Not Apple, nor Chevy, nor Porsche, nor any other car manufacturer will ever be in that position. Unless, of course they’re working on something we don’t know about.