Tesla ramps up interest in electricity utility business

Tesla now owns a license to trade electricity across western Europe and put the feelers out to potential German customers.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
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Tesla Fremont factory

It sure sounds like Tesla want to break into the utility game.


We have yet another hint Tesla has grander plans outside of building and selling electric cars -- the company continues to flirt with the possibility of becoming a electricity utility provider.

According to a Wednesday Reuters report, the automaker acquired a license to trade electricity in western Europe. Earlier this year, it also applied for a similar license in the UK, which first fueled speculation about Tesla's future business. While acquiring a license is one thing, the automaker sent out a survey to current Tesla owners in Germany essentially trying to understand how and why customers would switch to a Tesla utility. In a copy Reuters viewed, the service asked what would "encourage you to switch from your existing energy supplier?" and followed up with a question asking if they'd purchase a Tesla PowerWall for home storage, if Tesla supplied the electricity.

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Perhaps most interestingly, the company asked customers if they would allow Tesla to control when owners could charge their cars. This type of move could help a hypothetical Tesla utility company control usage during peak energy times and provide cheaper rates. The basic idea isn't new. Tesla already runs its Autobidder program in Australia alongside its massive battery farm in the country. Essentially, the system lets owners receiving energy give back to the grid when they don't need it. With PowerWall storage and controlled charging times, a Tesla utility company could try and balance the electricity grid at large.

Experts who spoke to Reuters said it's not likely Tesla would do this all on its own, but instead find a partner to break into the space. The automaker did not immediately return a request for comment on the news.

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