In the “best-case scenario,” Musk said, Tesla will produce 30,000 to 35,000 of its home backup batteries during the current quarter. He blamed the expected shortfall on chip shortages.
Musk was testifying in Delaware Chancellery Court when he revealed Powerwall’s latest guidelines on Monday. He was there to defend his role in Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, the solar installer, for around $ 2.6 billion.
Shareholders sued Tesla alleging that Musk pushed for the SolarCity deal, was inappropriately involved when he should have been fully challenged, and acted in his own best interests rather than that of Tesla shareholders to the time.
In addition to spending around $ 2.6 billion to acquire it, Tesla assumed the billions of debts and other liabilities and obligations of SolarCity. Personal entanglements between the two companies abounded. For example, Musk’s first cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive, founded and ran SolarCity, and Musk was concurrently chairman of the boards of both companies.
Shareholders suing Musk also believe he hasn’t been as transparent as he should have been with all of Tesla’s voting shareholders on various aspects of the deal, including SolarCity’s financial health and investments in its solar bonds by SpaceX, another company run by Musk. .
He introduced energy storage systems as a way to make renewables more reliable, for example by storing solar energy generated during the day for use at night. During the presentation, Musk pointed to the Powerwalls mounted flat on a wall at the back of the auditorium.
Batteries could allow homeowners to live entirely off the grid, or at least prevent outages due to power outages. “It’s designed to work great with solar systems right out of the box,” he said, without specifying a certain brand of panels.
He said Powerwalls would be available in three to four months.
In court this week, Musk told a different story, saying Powerwalls would not have been possible to build without the acquisition of SolarCity.
In an exchange Monday, shareholders’ attorneys asked Musk if he thinks June 2016 “isn’t the best time for Tesla to embark on a $ 2 billion dollar acquisition of a struggling company.” .
Musk said, “I don’t think SolarCity has had any financial problems. ”
The lawyers then rephrased their question, saying, “Now is not a good time to buy a business, let alone a struggling financially. Is not it ?
Musk replied, “Actually that’s not correct. We were starting the development of the Tesla Powerwall battery. And to have a compelling product, you really needed a tightly integrated solar and battery solution. And we couldn’t create a well-integrated solution. produced if SolarCity were a separate company. “
The court will need to determine whether Musk effectively controlled Tesla’s board of directors and forced a deal with SolarCity, or whether the shareholders and the board made that decision independently, based on all of the information that the CEO was forced to share.
Meanwhile, Tesla is still trying to run its solar business profitably and smoothly.
The company reported $ 494 million in energy revenue in the first quarter of 2021, an improvement from $ 293 million in the first quarter of the pandemic year, but its first-quarter revenue cost reached $ 595 million .
Tesla is not disclosing the split between its solar and energy storage products, or its solar and energy products for homes and larger scale projects like its Megapack in Australia.
Tesla’s much larger auto business generated $ 9 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2021.
In the first quarter of 2021, Tesla suddenly increased the prices of its solar installations and required customers ordering solar panels or “Solarglass” tiles to order the Powerwall as well.
On a first quarter earnings conference call, Musk said:
“There is only one configuration. We will not sell a solar house without a Powerwall. This solar could either be a solar retrofit with conventional panels placed on the roof or the Tesla solar glass roof, but in any case it will have the Powerwall. “
After these price hikes, which retroactively affected some Tesla solar customers, Tesla is also facing class action lawsuits in California and Pennsylvania from disgruntled customers who had already set up financing and made changes to their homes. to prepare for Tesla’s solar installations.