Tesla offers a boost to other electric carmakers

Offers to share technology from its coveted car and chargers with others

Published: June 13, 2014 03:15 PM

Electric cars would all be a lot easier to live with if they could all use Tesla’s network of Supercharger stations. And that may be the result of Tesla’s latest move yesterday to open all its patents to public use.

Tesla says it has hundreds of patents, and it isn’t saving any for itself. Instead, according to a blog post by company founder Elon Musk, Tesla plans to offer up its patents to partners and competitors alike “in the spirit of the open source movement.”

In the open source movement, anyone can use patents, but is expected also to share any improvements made to them. And to be sure, the company will need to devise a system so it knows who is using the patents, says Tesla spokesman Simon Sproule. The intention, however, is not to charge for their use, he says.

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport,” Musk writes in the blog. And walling off Tesla’s intellectual property against competitors runs counter to that goal, he says. Thus “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” He hopes the open patents will evolve into a unified technology platform to accelerate the adoption of electric cars.

That could mean everything from common batteries that would drive prices down across the industry and allow automakers to increase the range of electric cars, to unified standards for fast charging that could give drivers more flexibility and speed the spread of electric car chargers. The company has also reportedly been in talks with BMW, at least, about sharing technology to speed the adoption of electric cars.

While Tesla was initially concerned about competition from massive established car companies building electric cars, Musk says that is no longer his concern. “It is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis,” he writes. “Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.”

Tesla certainly has introduced several unique features and systems and knowing that other companies can use or improve upon those can be good news for consumers.

Eric Evarts

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