Daimler, Vivint Solar in exclusive deal on US home batteries

Gwen Vasquez
May 19, 2017

It's about making the power generated by the sun work 24/7.

The partnership will allow both companies to compete with similar offerings from Elon Musk's Tesla, which acquired rooftop installer Solar City previous year, as well as Sunrun, LG Chem, and other clean energy firms. In the announcement today, it says that launch has been "successful" thus far, prompting the company to turn its sights to the US.

Residential storage remains a diminutive market in the USA, accounting for fewer than 1,000 systems deployed past year, according to GTM Research.

Grid analysts and solar companies alike have been eyeing solar-plus-storage as a growth area with potential to add more controls to distributed energy resources.

The luxury carmaker announced on Thursday it would partner with Vivint Solar to sell a smart solar ecosystem to California residents, aiming to challenge Tesla's new solar-roof rollout on its turf.

Boris von Bormann, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas LLC, said the partnership with Vivint Solar permits the company to offer the same solar storage system in the U.S.as it now does in Europe.

California is the first USA market where Vivint Solar will offer this solution directly to homeowners.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to energy storage, Mercedes-Benz is betting that a modular approach will save customers money and eventually pull more of them in.

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But the news also comes at a time when some indicators have suggested slowdowns in the solar power business.

Vivint focuses on its customers through the entire process of going solar.

As for keeping energy costs down, Vivint Solar will help customers better manage their consumption.

Bywater said with expected changes to utility regulations, the batteries should be able to pay for themselves. Each system consists a 2.5 kWh battery and up to eight systems can be combined together to store a total of 20 kWh of energy. But a 20kWh system will only cost about $13,000 fully installed.

Musk made that much clear at his initial solar-roof unveiling, where he discussed how a solar push would allow for the full integration of Tesla products: a Powerwall that both stores solar energy and juices up your Tesla electric auto. But in many other states, potential customers may be driven more by emotion - like feeling environmentally responsible or self-sufficient - than by cost savings. "They're expecting a quality experience, a quality product", he said. Mercedes-Benz is a well know company that's been around for almost a century and Vivint puts its customers first they explained.

Although customer adoption of electric cars has been slow, the industry is poised to accelerate, with additional lower-priced, longer-range cars on the horizon, Brauer said. "The market is big enough that there are several companies in this space that can coexist and do really well, so there's not a need for a shark mentality out there to grab market share from others", von Bormann tells The Verge.

Mercedes-Benz pitches its electric products as a complete electrified home solution, and solar plays a crucial role in that vision.

The batteries are already in use overseas, and are manufactured at a Daimler factory in Germany. The batteries are guaranteed to maintain at least 80 percent of their original energy for 10 years.

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