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Musk Will Open Up Tesla Supercharger Patents To Spur Development 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-you-go dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Elon Musk has said repeatedly he wants to 'do something controversial' with Tesla's collection of electric car patents, but he finally offered specifics at the UK launch of his Tesla Model S on Sunday. The Tesla Motors CEO said he would like to open up the designs for his Supercharger systems — the free fast-charging stations designed to quickly refuel Tesla's electric cars — to create a standard for other car makers to use. Musk previously said he didn't want Superchargers to become a 'walled garden.'"
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Musk Will Open Up Tesla Supercharger Patents To Spur Development

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  • Elon Musk wants more quick refuel infrastructure on the interstates and local roads/cities, which will advance Tesla's and others electric cars. This is not controversial but does provide probable wider support for Tesla's collection of electric car products, patents, and parts. Open up the designs for Tesla Supercharger systems — the free fast-charging stations designed to quickly refuel electric cars — creating an ISO/OASIS standard for other car makers to use makes prescient business sense.

  • by Andrio (2580551) on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:18PM (#47196639)

    I want to be like Elon Musk when I grow up.

  • What a great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:20PM (#47196651) Homepage
    1. Build an electric car that's heads and shoulders above the competition.
    2. Build an innovative charging infrastructure to allow for long distance driving.
    3. Open up the technology for that charging infrastructure so that gas stations and the like can start getting in on the action and making some profit.
    4. With charging infrastructure becoming ubiquitous, that takes away many people's concerns about buying your car.
    5. Also, with charging infrastructure becoming ubiquitous, that may encourage other auto manufacturers to move past compliance cars and actually start selling quality vehicles.
    6. Tout competition's success as your own success, as it's built on your platform. Competition isn't only good PR in this context, but it carries with it the subtext that electric cars are a product category that is here to stay.

    To some degree, I still like the idea of plug-in hybrids for the time being. But if this "open supercharger" thing is as successful as I think it's going to be, there could be a sea change in the consumer automotive market.
  • by amiga3D (567632) on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:21PM (#47196659)

    It may be smart in other ways. If it becomes the standard then it means that he doesn't eventually get stuck using someone else's standards (maybe one of the big automakers) and have to pay fee's to use their patented design. Once electric cars catch on these stations will be everywhere.

  • by necro81 (917438) on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:22PM (#47196673) Journal
    This should be interesting, and should spur some development,

    but...

    I doubt that you could use a Tesla-like Supercharger to charge a battery other than one made by Tesla. I'm not talking about DRM, I'm talking about the architecture of the battery pack itself - its charging characteristics, its safety features, its cooling system, and so on down to the level of the individual 18650 cells. Those aspects are still heavily protected - licensing and manufacturing the packs and powertrain is a side business for Tesla. So what looks like a move to open up the world could, like other standards, become a way to lock in a particular proprietary design.

    I still think it's pretty cool, though. If it sheds more light on how Tesla has designed and constructed their pack, which is a fine technology, as well as directly showing ways to charge Li-Ion packs quickly, then I think this is a benefit to anyone interested in how electricity is used and stored (i.e., everyone). But I also like to keep in mind that Musk, for all his altruism, is still a capitalist and wants his vision of the future to be the one to succeed.
  • I am a small Tesla stock holder. This is good business from this stock holder's perspective. Make the market move and be the market leader.

  • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:23PM (#47196679)

    not necessarily - its like Microsoft giving away IE ... it makes sense because it encourages other manufacturers to use your charging kit, and so your cars have access to other's chargers - and so they become more convenient to own, and that lets you be more mainstream and that lets you sell more of them.

    Generally protectionism just hurts everyone.

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:24PM (#47196697) Homepage

    Are the superchargers a unique selling point of their products or are they an enabling infrastructure?
    Tesla is not just fighting other car makers, they are fighting public perception of electric cars.
    Growing the entire entire electric car market is more profitable than merely taking a larger chunk of a small electric car market.

  • by Jody Williams (3688505) on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:24PM (#47196701)
    Pro society? Not really. This is a brilliant move in terms of getting his infrastructure built for him. The stations he's been putting up all over the country will drive him bankrupt pretty fast at the pace he's trying to keep. Spreading the load around to other potential electric vehicle manufacturers just means he's getting free gas stations. It is brilliant, I won't deny that.
  • by Irate Engineer (2814313) on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:38PM (#47196793)

    Electric cars are not ubiquitous because range and ability to charge is a concern. Charging stations are not ubiquitous because electric cars are not ubiquitous.

    Gasoline automobiles were able to take off when they were invented because the liquid fuel infrastructure was in largely in place prior to their invention. Kerosene for lamps was distributed by metered pumps that were easily converted to dispense gasoline.

    Establishing a standard charging station would allow companies to make the investment in charging infrastructure, confident that it would be widely applicable to different vehicles and would not disappear overnight. When you can pull into the CircleK and purchase a few kWh of juice while grabbing a burrito, that's when electric cars will really take off.

  • Re:nice gesture (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:51PM (#47196899)

    There's two sides to it. Other cars that can recharge from Tesla supercharger, and third party charging stations that can supercharge Tesla cars. Both are good for Musk's company.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2014 @01:52PM (#47196901)

    From a stock holder perspective. it's a very dumb move.

    Yeah, and the boards of Blackberry, Nokia, and HP all said, "Google is giving away their mobile OS? What idiots!"

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