ELON MUSK, a South African entrepreneur, embodies the creative daring of Silicon Valley. He has defied sceptics and overcome setbacks over the years, all the while pushing on with innovations of improbable ambition. Yet even a man of his self-belief will have been taken aback by the negative response to an announcement on June 21st that Tesla Motors, the electric-carmaker and battery-manufacturer he runs, would buy SolarCity, a company that makes solar panels and that counts Mr Musk as its largest shareholder. Tesla will pay with up to $2.8 billion of its own shares if investors vote the deal through (Mr Musk says he will not take part in the ballot).

Mr Musk’s pitch is that combining Tesla and SolarCity creates a vertically integrated energy company that can sell consumers all they need for green living. The rich and virtuous can already buy an electric car from Tesla, and a Powerwall, a battery that stores solar energy and powers the home at night. A combination of Tesla and SolarCity could put solar panels in the carmaker’s retail stores, expanding SolarCity’s range of customers and helping them charge their cars in a cleaner...Continue reading