Tesla has almost become a household name, but critics are quick to rebut that the company and its CEO, Elon Musk are merely marketing experts and have learnt to coerce the media into a frenzy similar to that seen upon the release of a new Apple iPhone. But, with the Tesla Model 3 car just around the corner, we could be on the verge of a renewable revolution. However, the electricity power used to recharge the car has to come from somewhere, and while plugging in might be cheaper then refuelling, it's time we take a serious look at the possibility of living expense free. The right way.
Tesla has always taken a top-down approach, meaning they began by selling vehicles with a high price tag, at a low volume, to give the company the momentum it needed to grow. This, for a company that started out in a garage with a couple of engineers and some money from the PayPal guy, was a smart way of doing business. First, there was the Roadster. A sleek supercar, modelled on the Lotus Elise, with one small difference. It was the first vehicle to boast an electric drive train powered by a series of batteries that was actually capable of going far enough to be useful. It was a huge milestone for Tesla, who as a company has faced the possibility of bankruptcy many times in its short lifespan, but also for the motor and renewable industry at the same time. But,with a retail cost of A$191,888, that future was only being placed in the hands of the rich and famous.
Then there was the Model S, a luxury sedan that took the company from Lamborghini status to the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. This vehicle grew the EV market greatly and in many ways it would have reignited hope in the possibility of a green, technologically advanced and most importantly, hospitable future.
Today Tesla manufactures the Model S and the recently unveiled Model X, a luxury SUV. The final piece of the puzzle which fits nicely between the S and the X is the Model 3. If you get the joke (unfortunately, Ford motors trademarked the Model E, apparently sounding too similar to the famed Model T). Jokes aside, at $35,000 US, the Model 3 is looking like it's set to change the world in more ways than one. Elon Musk has stated that he believes Tesla will be able to sell 300,000 units a year, meaning Tesla will start raking in $12 Billion annually. This could be the beginning of the end for the combustion engine, and if other manufacturers don’t catch up quickly, the end of many well-known brand names. To put things into perspective, the Model 3, which has a 200-mile range, while less than the Model S, is still double that of its closest competitor, the Nissan Leaf.
While all this is great, there are probably many of you out there itching to say, “But it is still going to cost you a fortune to recharge your car every night”. In part, yes, the Tesla does require recharging and without Tesla Superchargers conveniently placed at every corner, Australian’s who don’t live in the CBD of Melbourne or Sydney will have to pay for that power yourself.
However, those of us who have taken the extra step of installing a Solar PV system providing electricity to the home or workplace, or, more importantly, a ‘Hybrid Solar System’ will already be geared up for a life of cost-free transportation as well as free solar electricity. Hopefully, if the government picks up the slack in regards to renewable funding, this will be a viable future for everyone. While it sounds like a wishful fantasy, cost-free and environmentally friendly electricity is simply a matter of choice. We have the option of investing in future of clean and cost-free fuel sources, or one where we continue to pay for every mile and every watt we use, all the while contributing to degrade the planet. The former is an option that being made available to us through technologies like electric vehicles (EV’s) and the combination of solar generated electricity coupled with battery storage, which is set to explode in 2016. In fact, Australia is expected to have installed 800 MW of battery storage by 2020. With the rise of the electric car, and hybrid solar solutions (combining solar PV with battery storage) we have a chance at real electricity independence as well as a departure from reliance on fossil fuels for transportation. So as we reach this fork in the road, the decisions we make will have long term impact on our daily expenses, our livelihoods and our lifestyles.
So it seems that the Tesla has the future covered. We may all be driving Tesla Model 3’s in 20 years, perhaps even on Mars if SpaceX, Musk’s other brainchild, if equally successful. But, we won’t be totally green if we continue recharging our cars with fossil fuels. Driving an electric car is only half of the green equation. Installing solar PV to provide the electricity to run our homes, our businesses and our cars offer us a cost-free, and sustainable energy independence.