Ask any Wall Street analyst about Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust holding Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) ecosystem model, and prepare to get an earful.

The fact that all of Apple's devices play nicely with one another - and even add new functionality you didn't even know you needed as you bring more Apple products into your home - is a key factor in the firm's monstrous growth since the iPod was introduced back in 2001.

Now, Tesla Inc. (TSLA) is doing the same thing.

Tesla may be best known for its cars, but following its SolarCity acquisition in late 2016, the firm also has a thriving energy business, selling commercial and residential solar arrays and power storage. To commemorate Earth Day, Tesla reported over the weekend that its global fleet of cars has now driven 7.2 billion electric miles, and that its installed base of solar energy panels has generated 10.3 billion kilowatt-hours of power.

Source: Tesla Inc. via Instagram
Source: Tesla Inc. via Instagram

Some rough back of the napkin math shows that Tesla's power generation to-date is about 4x the amount of energy that all of those Tesla Roadster, Model S, Model X, and Model 3 vehicles have consumed.

Considering the huge overlap between Tesla vehicle drivers and Tesla energy customers, it's safe to say that a large chunk of that energy production was actually used to drive those miles.

At first glance (and because the numbers were released on Earth Day), you might think that this is a green story. But it's not. It's really a product ecosystem story.

Tesla has never sold its cars on the green angle - they've always just used it as a happy footnote.

The marketers are quick to remind folks that the Model S is "the best car", that just happens to be electric.

Likewise, they're selling energy with a similarly pragmatic message. You should put Tesla Solar on your roof and a Powerwall on the side of your house because you'll save money and be more robust to power grid outages. That sales pitch appeals more to card carrying libertarians than card carrying Greenpeace members.

The clean energy angle is just an added benefit.

With current solar prices and Federal incentives, an optimally located home could be looking at a cost reduction to their power bill of 80 to 95 cents for every dollar spent on a 10-year solar loan (which then produces "free" energy for the remaining life of the system).

That's economically as close to a no-brainer as it gets.

Tesla's offerings play nicely with each other. Tesla's mobile app gives you control over many of your car's features - and with solar and Powerwall installed, those products also integrate into the same app, providing you with power flow detail and control in a single place.

Similarly, sticking within the Tesla ecosystem for all of those elements comes with the added intangible benefit of having a single source for warranty and service concerns.

Simply put, Tesla is making its energy offerings hard to turn down for existing vehicle customers. It's like Apple's ecosystem model, except everything is a lot more expensive.

As Tesla's new solar and battery facilities continue to scale up, we should see more of an impact from the ecosystem model in the firm's financials.

Meanwhile, for a technical take on the price action in Tesla's stock, be sure to check out this chart.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL.

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