Tesla Powerwall Home BatteryEnlarge Photo
The quarterly earnings calls held by Tesla Motors are always a chance to hear CEO Elon Musk describe the Silicon Valley carmaker's operations and outlooks.
But last week's call was a first: The bulk of the questions by financial analysts weren't about the company's electric cars.
Rather than questions about Model S sales, Model X launch, and development of the Model 3, most of the questions delved into Tesla Energy and its Powerwall home-energy storage systems.
The response to Tesla's announcement of battery packs for home, commercial, and utilty-scale energy storage has been "crazy, off the hook," Musk said on the call.
"It's gone super-viral."
Indeed, he said, as of last Wednesday, the company has already received 2,500 reservations for its Powerpack commercial and utility-scale storage packs.
Each of these orders typically includes around 10 individual packs, meaning the total one-week reservations represented 25,000 packs.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013Enlarge Photo
That number is dwarfed by the 30,000 reservations for its Powerwall home-energy storage products, which "we suspect will be one and a half to two [packs] per installation," Musk said.
Togther, those orders would be more than half the number of packs used in Tesla's total vehicle production since 2008.
"There's no way we could possibly satisfy this demand this year," Musk admitted. "We're basically sold out through the middle of next year."
He also said Tesla had more than 2,500 requests from companies that want to distribute and install the home and utility packs.
"We've had to triage those requests," Musk said. "We can't even respond to the e-mails."
The demand for storage batteries is such that it could represent twice the energy demand of Tesla's car business, he said.
But Musk cautioned that such a number was only an estimate.
1,000th body for 2012 Tesla Model S on display at Tesla Motors factory, Fremont, CA, Oct 28, 2012Enlarge Photo
Cars or batteries?
So then could Tesla Motors "go the other way," one analyst asked: Could it move from being a car company to becoming a battery company?
"It's possible," Musk mused.
"All we know right now is that we have demand well in excess of our production ramp--so we'll try to increase our production ramp. That's the only thing we know for sure."