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Tesla Looking To Get Into Air Conditioning, Has Daikin Worried

Tesla is looking at getting into the air conditioning market and it has Japanese Companies such as Fujitsu, Mitsubishi and Daikin concerned so much so that Daikin executives have spoken openly about getting into bed with Tesla.

Elon Musk, the Tesla founder with ventures ranging from space travel to tunnel construction, has now set home air conditioning in his sights in a move that could affect several brands.

“Air conditioning, that’s a pet project that I’d love to get going on,” possibly to “start working on that next year,” Musk told Tesla investors at a recent event.

“You could really make a way better home HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] system that’s really quiet and superefficient,” he said.

What this will mean for other air conditioner makers remains to be seen.

Tesla’s move poses a “big threat,” a Daikin executive told Nikkei Asia.

But another Daikin executive saw it more as a business opportunity. “We need to think of it as a chance and consider partnering with Tesla,” this source said.

The concept for Tesla air conditioning came about as designers developed a in car heat pump for temperature control.

The Model Y sport utility vehicle rolled out by the electric-car maker this year features a heat pump for temperature control, which improves efficiency while also boosting the vehicle’s range in colder temperatures compared with traditional heating systems.

Musk himself called it “pretty spectacular” at the investor event. “It’s tiny, it’s efficient … it has to last for 15 years” and has to work in conditions from “the coldest winter to the hottest summer,” he said.

Tesla has beefed up its energy business over the past several years, launching the Powerwall home battery in 2015 and acquiring U.S.-based solar panel installer SolarCity in 2016. Combining these technologies with efficient air-conditioning systems could provide significant energy savings to households claim analysts.

Heating and air-conditioning systems account for about 30% to 40% of the energy consumed by an ordinary household.

“Tesla is looking toward a world where consumers buy and sell excess electricity created through energy management,” said the Itochu Research Institute’s Sanshiro Fukao, an auto-industry expert told the Nikki Asia. “It doesn’t see air conditioners as mere hardware.”

Tesla is also looking to start in-house production of electric-vehicle batteries, using outside know-how it has acquired. Future partners will likely face the challenge of generating synergies with Tesla while maintaining a close grip on their own technologies and know-how.

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