Tesla was an early adopter of the concept of “disruptive innovation.” They saw an opportunity to innovate, in their own ways, at almost every stage. And as a result of that, they got a lot of interesting, powerful things done. They got their powertrain, their electric vehicle – the Model S sedan – to a point where they could offer something that no one else could and at a price that no one else could even afford. They were in a whole different league. When they moved into this massive data center they were able to do stuff that no one else could do…not just at the cost of scale, but at the cost of reliability. That’s a very tough problem to solve.
I’m interested, though, in what impact Tesla is having – on the grid, on electric-vehicle reliability, and on other things.
It’s really been fascinating. There’s a lot of research going on at the time. We could use the data.
You mean building a better grid? Do you think Musk can help them?
They’ve become the default for electric cars, and it’s really great. For instance, because they started on the grid they were able for the first time to build a storage grid in their battery infrastructure.
Then they came up with this concept of ‘bulk electric vehicles’ that could go to places with a lot of heavy load. They found that they needed to build huge battery “superchargers.” The superchargers needed to be far away. To bring the power of charging to such a place, they had to build a high-voltage transmission line – which required them to build a battery factory. But, if you’ve got a large factory, you can build batteries on-site. But if you have a factory with tens of thousands of people that live in the urban center, you really have to build a transmission line.
How do you think Tesla has helped the grid?
By changing the way things are done today. They wanted to deliver the product faster to their customers.
Do you think the utility is trying to come up with a way, in the new world that doesn’t involve charging the cars at all – but also not charging the homes?
It depends on what they are trying to do. They can go to the point I describe, and they may not necessarily have all the power to be successful there.
I don’t think it will go that way, which
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