Apparently, Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk really believes in the adage “a rising tide lifts all boats” as he’s decided to give all automakers access to the company’s patents. By giving everyone the technology, it may boost innovation and, by extension, sales.
“We’re trying to clear a path for the electric-vehicle industry,” he said during a conference call today. “I think to some degree here a rising tide lifts all boats. On balance it’s better if the rest of the industry pursues electric vehicles more vigorously.”
The access doesn’t come without some strings attached. Automakers using the information must provide something of equal value or agree to not sue Tesla.
Tesla is best known for its Model S sedan, which has won scads of awards, but the company also is a leader in battery and battery charging technology. Its high-speed chargers, for example, can provide a 50% charge in about 20 minutes: about 16 times faster than other public charging stations.
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Charging the vehicle could be the biggest hindrance when it comes to the mass acceptance of EVs. By opening up its leading edge technology to others, it could expand charging networks rapidly. In fact, Musk said he spoke with BMW executives about teaming up on this front.
Musk implies there is some altruistic intent behind the move.
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“I don’t think people quite appreciate the gravity of what is going on (in terms of global warming) or just how much inertia the climate has,” Musk said. “We need to do something. We would be shortsighted at Tesla if we kept these things close to our vest.”
However, there’s more to it than that.
The maker is also in the process of searching for land for a new $4 billion to $5 billion “gigafactory” to produce EV batteries for vehicles in bulk. The finalists include Texas, Arizona, Nevada, California and New Mexico, according to multiple reports. One of the major constrictors of electric vehicle production is the lack of battery-making operations.
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EV makers are typically reliant on outside suppliers for battery technology, although General Motors does have its own facility in Brownstown Township, Michigan, which produces batteries for the Spark EV as well as the Chevy Volt.
However, if other makers switch to Tesla’s style of battery – a cylindrical shaped power provider – then he’s created a win-win. Tesla’s battery technology appears to be many years ahead of the competition so they catch up in terms of performance and he can sell them all batteries.