Tesla CEO Elon Musk forecast that the company’s energy business will eventually be the same size as— or even bigger than — its automotive sector, the latest sign that the company plans to put more time and resources to scaling up its solar and storage products.
“It could be bigger, but it will certainly be of a similar magnitude,” Musk said during an earnings call Wednesday. The company surprised Wall Street by reporting a return to profitability in the third quarter.
The bulk of Tesla’s revenue is generated from sales of its Model S, Model X and Model 3 electric vehicles. In the third quarter, automotive revenues were $5.35 billion. The company doesn’t break out revenue generated from solar, energy storage or other products and services. However, the total revenue in the third quarter was $6.3 billion, which gives some indication of the size of automotive compared to its other businesses.
Tesla’s energy and solar businesses languished for nearly two years as attention and resources were directed to the Model 3. That diversion of resources included redirecting battery cell production lines meant for its home Powerwall and commercial Powerpack energy storage products to the car because the company didn’t have enough cells.
“We had to do it because if we didn’t solve the Model 3, Tesla wouldn’t survived,” he said. “So, unfortunately that shorted other parts of the company.”
Now, the company is committed scaling up energy storage and solar. Kunal Girotra, who initially joined Tesla in 2015 as a senior product manager for Powerwall, was promoted to senior director of the company’s energy operations.
In the third quarter, Tesla installed 43 megawatts of solar, a 48% increase from the previous quarter. Solar installations are still 54% lower than the same period last year.
Energy storage deployments have continued to grow, reaching an all-time high of 477 MWh in the third quarter, according to earnings posted Wednesday.
Part of this new effort includes its solar roof tile product, which was originally unveiled in 2016. Musk said that a new, third iteration of its solar roof tile will debut Thursday afternoon.
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