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.
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.”
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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