Elon Musk teases 'major' Tesla news -- but it's 'not a car'

A tweet from Tesla's chief signals that an unveiling at the end of April will bring the company's first foray beyond automobiles.

Nick Statt
Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
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Musk teased the announcement on the his personal Twitter account, a now-standard practice for the billionaire. Getty Images

Elon Musk likes to cut to the chase. Electric car maker Tesla Motors, he says, has a product coming next month. And it's not an automobile.

Musk, who is chief executive of both Tesla and space transport company SpaceX, is known for dropping news on his personal Twitter account with a comic casualness -- think rocket explosions and such. He did so again Monday, teasing the upcoming Tesla product announcement in less than 140 characters. The news is slated for April 30 at the company's Hawthorne, Calif., design studio.

The announcement may mark Tesla's inevitable entrance into the utility market. Because Tesla vehicles run on swappable lithium-ion battery packs with enough to juice to power an automobile for more than 200 miles of travel, a household- or even business-size battery pack could be used to cut electricity costs, possibly through the use of solar energy. The company said as much in February when Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel, in a call with investors, confirmed Tesla was working on a standalone battery.

Moving in that direction would open an entirely new front for Tesla. The company has proved to be a catalyst for change in the car business, as several major automakers over the last several years have unveiled their own electric vehicles. Tesla's entrance into the home-charging business could spark a similar trend in that realm. The company said back in February that it's seen interest from public utilities to potentially collaborate. Musk helped create and is currently chairman of SolarCity, the US's largest provider of solar power, so incorporating solar energy is a real possibility.

Tesla shares shot up almost 3 percent following Musk's tweet. The company's stock hit an all-time high of $286 a share last September. Yet shares have been on a downward slide since then due to lower-than-expected quarterly performance as the company pours resources into launching its next vehicle, the Model X SUV, due later this this year.