Musk Hints Tesla May Help Rival Automakers With Tesla Patent Surprise

With its super fast supercharger technology, legendary battery packs and powerful drivetrains, Tesla Motors is often regarded as the electric car leader within the automotive industry. And as with any large company with a revolutionary product, Tesla has many, many patents in place to protect its intellectual property.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took a while before promising something which could revolutionise the EV world.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took a while before promising something which could revolutionise the EV world.

But at yesterday’s annual shareholder Meeting at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted he’s about to do something which would dramatically change the electric car world: give away some of Tesla’s secrets in order to further spur on the electric car revolution.

The comments came when a shareholder asked Musk about the conflict between his personal goal of wanting everyone behind the wheel of an electric car and his fiduciary responsibility as Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] CEO. What could Tesla and Musk do, asked the shareholder, to encourage other automakers to make long-range, fast-charging EVs?

“It is surprising that there hasn’t been more activity from other car companies to make serious electric vehicles,” said Musk in a moment of extreme candor. “The number of electric cars they make is the minimum required to satisfy regulations. And then when those regulations are ordered down then they reduce or eliminate the electric vehicle program. ”

“It’s surprising, and I sort of was really hoping that other car companies would…engage in serious electric car programs,” he lamented.

“I’m trying to think of ways to help that along that would be a good outcome,” he continued. “I don’t think their success is to Tesla’s detriment because ultimately we need all cars to go electric, and the car market is enormous…even if all cars were electric immediately all new cars,produced, it would take twenty years to replace the fleet.”

“If you look at the puny number of cars that Tesla makes….it’s a very tiny percentage of the overall market. We’ve got a long way to go to get next to the decimal point in order of market share.”

It's not clear which patents Musk wants Tesla to offer, but we'd guess it's something to do with charging and batteries.

It’s not clear which patents Musk wants Tesla to offer, but we’d guess it’s something to do with charging and batteries.

Then he paused, looking off into space for a few seconds. Visibly tired and disappointed by the notion that other automakers weren’t following Tesla’s lead, it was easy to see that Musk was debating with himself if he should publicly state what he was about to say next.

“I’m kind of planning on doing something fairly significant on that front which would be kind of controversial with respect to Tesla’s patents,” he finally said. “But I want to write something so that I can articulate it properly and explain the reasoning for the decision.”

Musk was careful to avoid saying anything else, moving swiftly on to other questions, but we’re curious as to what exactly he meant by “controversial.” One possibility is that Musk will release Tesla Supercharger patents, allowing other automakers and infrastructure providers to adopt Tesla’s ultra-fast 130 kilowatt supercharger technology in order to make rapid charging of longer-range electric cars quick and easy.

Another possibility is that Tesla wants other automakers to adopt its highly-adaptable small capacity battery cell use in high-capacity electric car battery packs. In doing so, it could not only influence the battery packs that other automakers use in their cars, but also set itself up as battery supplier for any automaker wanting to make an electric car.

For now, we’re in the dark just as much as anyone else, and we’ll have to wait for Musk’s promised blog post to find out more.

Until then, we’re curious to see what you though of Musk’s enigmatic comments. What patents would you like to see Tesla release to the world? And what would you like to see done with them?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • CDspeed

    I too have noticed that although Tesla is building the best electric car in the world, making all the efforts by major manufacturers look poor. Non of them are stepping up to compete with Tesla, it leaves me in shock with my jaw laying on the floor. Apple debuted the modern tablet, and soon after everyone was making their own interpretation of the smart phone based gadget. But with electric cars there isn’t even a hint that a Model S competitor is in the works from anyone. It is strange, Tesla is just sitting there raking in billions of dollars, and no one wants in on it. BMW is rumored to be working on the i5, but those rumors suggest the i5 will just be a bigger i3, that’s not progress that’s baby steps, really small baby steps. I do get the sense that major manufacturers are afraid of displeasing a higher power, and if they’re caught building a Model S competitor that higher power is going to react in a negative way.

    • just someone old

      Elon is used to the Silicon Valley mentality.nThat is why SpaceX & Teslamotors develop & evolve fast!nIn short he runs them as techcompanys.nnThe established constructors are used to only do updates every year, and mayor upgrades or changes every 4-5 yearsnThey make a lot of profit on servicing theire ice-carsnSo for them making EV’s does not make financial sense!nnEven if you see how Nissan Leaf’s are sold, serviced & supported you see Nissan has not yet grasped how they should handel the question!nAlthough the Nissan Leaf is one of the best ev’s out there.nThey learn, but it goes slowly!nnI think what EV’s and their manufacturers would help is support their customers in a way Tesla supports it’s customers and even how it sells it’s cars! nNo rocketscience in my opinion, but very disruptive in this “old” industry

    • lad76

      Yes there is a higher power; there are two:nnThe AAM(Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers) and The API(American Petroleum Institute).nnThe API is made up of the five major oil companies and works on their behalf to set policy, to formulate long range plans and to lobby the Federal and State Government representatives for favors, favorable legislation and regulations.nnThe AAM accomplishes the same mission for its car maker members who are BMW, CHRYSLER, FORD, GENERAL MOTORS, JAGUAR LAND ROVER, MAZDA, MERCEDES-BENZ, MITSUBISHI, PORSCHE, TOYOTA, VOLKSWAGEN AND VOLVO. Note that Tesla and Nissan are not members and Honda and Hyundai seems not to be, at least not publicly. nnDon’t think for a moment that the AAM and API don’t consult with one another. You can bet they do. And you can bet their motives are not altruistic but driven by maximizing profits. nnAn example of how the car companies and oil companies work together; you may find reading this worth your time:nn

    • Israel Navas Duran

      Nissan Leaf is a better car. The best car isn’t necessarily the most expensive. You can buy 3 Leafs for the price of one Model S.

  • Kalle Centergren

    he should make sure that if he gives out patents they may only be used on cars with >300 km range or so

  • mal

    If you have about an hour to spare, this is a very interesting presentation from Marc Tarpenning – one of the original founders of Tesla. He has observed that auto makers have outsourced so much of their technology that there is a poverty of understanding of and committment to advanced Electrical Engineering within management – whose expertise and confidence lie in other areas. nThis situation is not changing fast enough.nn