Three things to expect from Tesla's event tonight

Is the world ready for a smart roof? We'll find out tonight.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
3 min read
Tim Stevens/Roadshowhow

Tesla 's hosting a little party this evening, and it's having it at a big place: Universal Studios. That's an unusually flashy move for a company that typically has media come out to one of its engineering or manufacturing facilities, but we can deal.

The question is, of course, what will Tesla be showing us there? If you're hoping for an update on the hotly anticipated Model 3 sedan, that company's more-affordable follow-up to the Model S, you're probably going to be disappointed. The same goes if you're looking forward to the Model Y, Tesla's supposed crossover successor to the Model X.

Tonight, as far as we can tell, will be all about the stuff that powers those cars. That is to say, literal power, as in electricity: generating the stuff, storing it, and then piping it into the batteries of your car.

Solar roof


The Gigafactory has a solar roof -- why not your house, too?


First up, and probably the biggest thing to look forward to, is the unveiling of a new, so-called "solar roof." Now, we've probably all seen solar panels on a building's roof before, but this promises to be something different.

In the company's recent earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said this will be "a solar roof that looks better than a normal roof." He went on to say "it's exceeded my expectation."

That doesn't give us a lot to work with, but we're expecting a solution that will be more integrated with a building structure than what we've seen before, which leaves us with all sorts of questions about how it will work in areas that see frequent snow and ice. Questions that, hopefully, will be addressed tonight.

Powerwall 2.0

Tesla Powerwall

The first Powerwall is due for an upgrade.

Allison Tom/CNET

Powerwall is Tesla's home and enterprise power-storage solution. Basically, a big 'ol battery pack you slap on the wall and charge up, using it to either offset electricity usage during peak loads or to keep the lights on when the power goes out.

Tesla's first Powerwall has been in limited supply and hasn't exactly taken the world by storm, but Musk is optimistic that this new version will change things. In an earlier earnings call, he said: "I think it's going to be really exciting when people see it. That's why I expect exponential growth from there. I think it's really going to go ballistic."

Tesla's current 10 kWh Powerwall unit costs $3,500, and is intended only for backup use. A smaller, 7 kWh unit intended for daily cycling is $3,000. Expect, at a minimum, a significant increase in capacity for Powerwall 2.0.

New chargers


Wireless charging? Probably not yet, but anything's possible.


Finally, Tesla has indicated that all this will tie into their automotive efforts somehow, perhaps with some sort of a next-generation in-home charger for Models S, X and 3. Now, while your mind is likely falling back to that scary, alien-looking charger the company demonstrated in the past -- and indeed that may be a part of it -- the truth is actually likely a little different.

We've seen a number of charging solutions from Japanese manufacturers that allow the car to not only be charged by the home's electricity supply, but for the car to become the home's power supply in the case of an emergency, longer-duration outage.

That may be what we'll see tonight, a charger that could not only more efficiently and inexpensively charge your Tesla, but could also keep the lights on in your home.