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As an energy infrastructure company that also sells cars, Tesla enters a new phase

And here all along we thought Tesla was a car company. If the Telsa acquisition offer for SolarCity is approved by both companies, Tesla will be transforming itself into an energy company, according to Wired.

The overall scenario goes like this. SolarCity solar panels collect energy from the sun. Rather than using the energy immediately or selling it back to the grid, the energy is stored in one or more Tesla Energy Powerwalls hanging in or outside homes and offices. The stored power can then be used to heat, cool, and provide electricity to the home and charge any devices that need charging, like, say, electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model 3. Yes, a Tesla car and other electric cars are part of the loop, but they only work thanks to stored energy. Self-sustaining, zero-emissions power. Sound familiar?

Related: Musk wants Tesla to own SolarCity, but his end game is even bigger

This transformation doesn’t come by accident. As Tesla CEO Elon Musk said when announcing the SolarCity acquisition offer, “We would be the world’s only vertically integrated energy company offering end-to-end clean energy products to our customers.”

In another telling statement cited by Wired, Musk said, “The world does not lack for automotive companies. The world lacks for sustainable energy companies.”

Another view is that Tesla intends to become an infrastructure company. Certainly, SpaceX is already making a play as an off-earth cargo transport provider. As Tesla continues to develop autonomous vehicle technology (and offers to share it with the DOT and potentially other companies) it indirectly advances the electric car business because self-driving tech and electric power are the new twinset of automotive development.

Sure, Tesla is seen as leading the way (and eventually maybe becoming profitable) in selling all-electric cars, but if you view it as an energy company, not as a car company, it’s essentially building a market for home-based charging systems and concomitantly, home solar energy collection and storage.

The Model S opened lots of eyes to the potential of electric-car power and range. The Model 3 has experienced unprecedented demand for affordable electric cars that are also powerful and good-looking.

It may be that in a few years, the retrospective view will be that the Model 3’s biggest coup wasn’t how many advance reservations it piled up, but rather how it spurred other car companies to finally get on the stick and make electric cars that people really want. (And coincidentally build demand for energy that Tesla the power company will be ready, able, and eager to provide.)