Mercedes-Benz Eyes Solar Rooftops
Many investors were skeptical last year while billionaire Elon Musk started trying to merge two of his companies, Solar City and Tesla. He claimed that solar rooftops from Solar City should be combined with in-home battery packs and electric vehicles from Tesla. Eventually, the companies were merged and now Tesla is trying to market its groundbreaking, nearly-invisible solar panels as a key feature for the home of anyone that owns a Tesla car. It turns out some other companies do not think the idea is so crazy.
On May 18, carmaker Mercedes-Benz and Vivant Solar announced a “strategic collaboration” that sounds a lot like the merged Tesla. The two companies will join together to develop a residential home energy storage system that they say will combine Mercedes’ expertise with batteries and Vivant’s expertise with residential electricity systems. Vivant Solar has installed solar systems in more than 100,000 homes across the U.S., but it has yet to integrate battery storage into its offerings. Likewise, Mercedes has yet to pair its cars with the renewable recharging capabilities that many drivers seem to want. Both companies seem to see the partnership as a way to boost adoption of their own products. Vivant expects to give customers more control over their electricity, as having a battery backup greatly expands the usability of solar. Mercedes recently launched a similar home battery system in Europe and the company says that venture has been highly successful.
Mercedes and Vivant may have a leg up on Tesla when it comes to pricing. Tesla’s Powerwall 2 stores 14 kilowatt-hours of electricity and costs about $11,450. Tesla recommends one battery pack for most average sized homes. Mercedes, on the other hand, offers its battery packs as small as 2.5 kilowatt-hours at an expected price of about $5,000. For a home that does not need a lot of storage, it may be appealing to start with a smaller battery pack from Mercedes.
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