Tesla Gives Away Patents For Free in Effort to Revive Electric Car
Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk made a surprisingly bold move last week by announcing that the company has changed its policy which consisted in protecting its patents for electric car technology from its competition. The innovative electric car manufacturer has deemed that in order for it to survive, it now needs to share some of its knowledge with the current car ecosystem which still relies on fossil fuel technology.
In a conference call, Musk confirmed that not all of Tesla’s patents will be public, however a few hundred, “ultimately thousands” will be shared.
In previous years, Tesla had been protective of its patents, but this has changed with the times, as the benefits of Open Source collaboration have become more accepted within the business community outside of programmer circles.
If there are more electric cars circulating, there will be more charging stations and a bigger incentive for middle class consumers to go electric. This would be perfect for Tesla, who is still fighting the perception that EVs are reserved for the elite.
In a statement released on Thursday, Musk wrote:
Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal.”
In the past, Volvo has shared its seat belt technology,
When an invention is patented, its usage becomes limited by the goals and operational environment of its creator. When an invention is shared, it could reach a wider audience and really have an impact on the world. That’s how the Internet became what it is today. When Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web, he did not ask for a penny in return. He knew that for it to become widely successful, it needed to reach a critical mass of users. Electric vehicles face the same dilemma as earlier Internet developers. They need a much larger part of the market if they ever want to ensure their future. Currently, less than 1% of the vehicles in the United States are electric.
There are currently 97 charging stations across the USA, 20 more in Europe and 2 in China. If it ever wishes to see a bigger share of electric vehicles all over the world, it will require a major extension of its supercharger infrastructure. These stations can recharge half of the battery of a Tesla Model S in twenty minutes and it’s totally free.
For Tesla’s business model to keep on working, it has shunned the idea that the large car manufacturers are direct competitors who will crush them with all their might. They have realized that these companies can be their technological partners, and can participate in keeping Tesla’s technology alive for the generations to come.
Plus, more idealistic engineers will join their ranks, just like the idealistic programmers who worked to make the Internet what it is today. Even though other companies may recruit Tesla’s smartest engineers, it will keep on attracting those who want to make something meaningful and share it with the world.
There have been many theories on who killed the electric car in the early 2000s, but now perhaps Tesla Motors and its Open Source approach will be its saviour for future generations.