Tesla wants to buy Solar City, become an integrated sustainable energy business

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On Tuesday, Tesla announced it intends to acquire the solar power business Solar City, provided shareholders of both companies approve the purchase. In a conference call with reporters, Elon Musk said that Tesla “thinks this is a huge opportunity to have a highly integrated sustainable energy company, from generation to storage to transport.” It’s a move Musk said he’s been thinking about for many years, and that the timing seemed right with Tesla’s recent activities in energy storage.

Assuming the shareholders agree, this will add a third product line to Tesla’s retail stores, which will be literal one-stop-shops for sustainable energy, from power generation (via solar panels), energy storage (Powerwalls—the battery packs the company announced earlier this year), and electric vehicles. Integrating Tesla’s Powerwall storage systems with Solar City’s solar panels also promises to remove some duplication—currently both storage and generation systems have to have their own control computers and modems, connecting to different clouds.

“Tesla’s goal is to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. You need energy generation, storage, and electric transport,” Musk said. “We need those three ingredients to have a good future. I don’t think of us an automotive company; the world doesn’t lack automotive companies, it lacks sustainable energy companies. That’s the fundamental good Tesla will achieve.”

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