Daimler, Vivint Solar in exclusive deal on U.S. home batteries

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The venture is a product of Mercedes-Benz Energy, a new subsidiary created in 2016 to move into the residential energy storage market.

German automaker Daimler AG will enter the nascent USA market for home batteries through a collaboration with residential rooftop solar installer Vivint Solar Inc, the two companies said on Thursday.

Those purchasing the energy storage system will get modular 2.5 kWh batteries that can be combined to go as high as 20 kWh of stored power. These batteries cannot only work as dependable backup in case of power failure from the grid, they also maximize solar energy captured during the day. The companies declined to mention pricing but noted new customers will be able to finance the solar panel and energy storage setup or purchase it outright.

For now, Mercedes will leverage its partnership with Vivint to role out its rechargeable battery in California. His energy plan doesn't mention solar or other renewable energy sources, and his administration's 2018 budget proposal includes deep cuts to related agencies, like the one that helped drive down the cost of solar in the first place.

The market for energy storage is small, but growing rapidly as the costs of lithium-ion batteries fall. Solar specialists like Vivint and its peers have enough confidence in that future, though, to secure their storage partners now.

The exclusive partnership, Vivint's first foray into energy storage, will allow the companies to compete against similar offerings from automaker Tesla Inc, solar installer Sunrun Inc, battery maker LG Chem Ltd and others.

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For reference, the average US residential home uses 901 kWh of electricity per month, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The head of Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas, Boris von Bormann, said entering the home storage market was a natural evolution for the luxury vehicle brand. "We believe their energy storage system is going to delight our customers and are impressed with their ambitious plans for the future".

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

Parent company Daimler started the energy storage division in 2015 soon after Tesla Energy was launched. Apart from the EQ brand with a family of vehicles, Mercedes-Benz is also developing a holistic ecosystem, which, alongside the vehicle itself, also comprises a comprehensive range of electric mobility-related offerings.

In some states, like California, where Mercedes and Vivint will first focus their efforts, the economic equation is beginning to make sense, investors and analysts say. That doesn't sound too bad, and if the price is right, Mercedes-Benz could certainly break into the energy scene here in the US.

Though the power rating of the Mercedez battery system can depend on the power electronics specific to particular installations, but in general it is 0.5 C up to 4 battery units.