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Tesla Model S sedan glamor shot
In a move that stands to benefit both the environment and his own electric car company, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday that, "in the spirit of the open source movement," the company "will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology." The goal is expansion of the overall electric car market:
According to Musk, Tesla made this gesture to—once again—try to nudge the rest of the automotive market along. Tesla’s Model S has proved that there’s massive interest in a well-made, fun-to-drive electric car. Still, Tesla is barely making a dent in the massive auto market. Musk wants to promote a more dramatic shift toward electric cars, so he will do what he can to accelerate things. “I don’t think people quite appreciate the gravity of what is going on [with regard to global warming] or just how much inertia the climate has,” Musk said during a conference call. “We really need to do something. It would be shortsighted if we try to hold these things close to our vest.”
Increasing the market for electric cars around Tesla's patents could expand the infrastructure to support Tesla drivers:
Carter Driscoll, a senior tech analyst at investment bank MLV & Co., told HuffPost that Tesla could be trying to entice innovators to build battery-powered cars that are compatible with Tesla chargers. Doing so would help Tesla become the industry backbone and expand its network of power stations without building them itself, he said.

"On the charging side, there is no standard," he said by phone. "This is [Tesla] trying to standardize the technology they've created."

So there's actually a sound business reason for Musk's step in making the patents available. But, as his statement announcing the move makes clear, it's not just about a race for profit. There's another, much bigger race going on—and this move comes out of the knowledge that "it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis." Musk is hoping that offering Tesla's technology to other companies will help slow that crisis.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  if TESLA makes the standard parts (9+ / 0-)

    they could become the Intel of Cars.

    Selling critical components to others and with
    the patents open, a second source opens up.

    That may well be the way to go.

  •  a real SUV's integration with Tesla technology (6+ / 0-)

    would go a long way forward rather than the crossover X model

    The first model to join the existing S luxury saloon will be the Model X SUV, arriving next year. Company insiders indicate that it will be close to the concept car that’s already been widely displayed and is set to keep its gullwing doors too.

    A third model, rivalling the BMW 3-series, will arrive in early 2017. According to Musk, "it will be 20 per cent smaller and half the price" of the current Model S, indicating a starting price of around £30,000.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 12:45:41 PM PDT

  •  You need to fix the title. "Electric", not (6+ / 0-)

    "Electronic".  Just trying to be helpful, since I know the auto-correct can be a b*tch.

  •  Elon Musk Is a National Treasure! (5+ / 0-)

    If any businesses deserve federal subsidies, it's Tesla Motors, Space X, the Hyperloop, and the Gigafactory -- that $20 Billion that Big Oil gets in corporate welfare is horrendously misappropriated, and so is Big Ag's and Big Pharma's obscene corporate welfare.

    We need to promote the future of technology, and Elon Musk is it.

  •  Lottery dream. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Victor Ward, thanatokephaloides

    Number 5 or 6 on the list. Tesla S. Don't need the roadster. I'm happy with my junque.

    Lead with love. Forgive as a reflex.

    by Gentle Giant on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 01:15:51 PM PDT

  •  Damn, I was just talking about something very (3+ / 0-)

    much like this in another thread.  Saying that nobody's recognizing the advantage of taking a longer view.

    And here comes this guy, proving me wrong.

    I'm happy to be wrong.

    Hey Apple and Samsung, take notes:  This is how you advance your industry.

    I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

    by mojo11 on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 01:31:18 PM PDT

  •  All about the Superchargers (3+ / 0-)

    Right now, I think there are fewer than 200 supercharger (fast EV charging) stations around the country that can be used for long-distance drivers. Tesla alone would never have the market share to make widespread installation feasible on a scale capable of replacing gas cars.

    By opening their patents, they're encouraging other would-be EV manufacturers to use their charging system design, which means a standard, nationally distributed network would be the next step. Alone, that doesn't happen, and without it, gas cars remain the norm for the foreseeable future. With it, EVs can overtake gasoline-powered cars in a matter of years.

    Brilliant move.

    "Speaking for myself only" - Armando "Pay Attention To Me diplomacy never works out very well for anyone but the defense contractors." -Hunter

    by JR on Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 02:07:09 PM PDT

  •  Taking The Bill Gates Approach... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cowdab, stagemom

    Rather than the Steve Jobs approach.

    Microsoft and Apple developed their operating systems (Battery) at the same time.  Bill Gates saw his profit in a product other than the operating system and let everyone use it.  Steve Jobs kept his operating system proprietary.  Both made a profit, but in a different way.

  •  Once we're done with that idiot Christie, NJ wo... (6+ / 0-)

    Once we're done with that idiot Christie, NJ would be an excellent place to build charging stations on the Tesla Standard...our entire state exists to connect Philadelphia to NYC! Then build south on to DC, north to Boston. In ten to twenty years, you could extend this into an electric transportation corridor running from the Canadian Maritimes to Florida.

  •  Making the technology open source is a move (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries, Illinois IRV

    Tesla definitely would have approved.

    I'm glad his spirit of innovation and generosity lives on at Tesla.

    I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against. ~ Malcolm X -8.62 -8.36

    by 4Freedom on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 06:40:11 PM PDT

  •  odd that he at least didn't make some deals (0+ / 0-)

    partnerships with other car makers.. or select just a few and give them rights..etc.

    He is very smart, and I think this might suggest there is something he is worried about.

    Perhaps he is worried that natural gas will beat him to the punch. There are a lot of natural gas filling stations opening up to support the trucking industry. If this really catches on, he might be worried about how both infrastructures could be built out simultaneously in the US, and could believe that he is seriously behind right now..

  •  electricity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gertie Green, Illinois IRV

    Suppose Musk succeeds and electric cars become common.  More electricity will be needed, much more.  For this to happen, infrastructure--power lines and power generation--needs to be built.  That takes time--and energy--and causes carbon pollution.  This doesn't mean it's not the right way to go, just that it's a long term solution--and time is running out.  Concurrently, I'd like to see Americans using cars that run on natural gas, which is now plentiful--and cleaner to run.  Sadly, that too causes more pollution.  
    Both types of cars are better than what we have today--both solutions are less than perfect--but much better than the status quo.  In a sane world, Al Gore would have been our president in 2001, and so much time wouldn't have been wasted.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 07:03:06 PM PDT

    •  All the more reason to back solar and wind (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries, Tronsix2

      Not a few decades from now, but NOW, together with government action to upgrade the infrastructure.

      Primo pro nummata vini [First of all it is to the wine-merchant] (-7.25, -6.21)

      by Tim DeLaney on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 07:27:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Natgas Not Better (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Illinois IRV

      Burning natgas in a car is 18% efficient (gasoline is about 25% efficient). Burning natgas in a CCGT generator is over 85% efficient (using the heat byproduct instead of wasting it at the tailpipe). The CCGT is 5x as efficient.

      So burning it in cars is like torching 80% of the natgas out in the Greenhouse. Not to mention that leaks from many, many cars are much more likely and larger than at a few generating plants - of a gas 23x as bad for the Greenhouse as CO2 is.

      Converting gasoline car production to natgas production would take a long time, too. Growing electric production and the grid is probably faster, and has a lot more benefits. Growing onsite generation, by wind/solar/etc (even natgas fuelcells in homes) probably makes grid growth a lot faster than the production of natgas cars.

      Whatever we do will take time. If we can cut America's emissions by 30-65% by 2030, we'll probably buy enough time that we can reduce the Greenhouse by the end of the century enough to perhaps roll back the 2-5C increase to 1925 levels, and avoid most longterm damage.

      The only viable solutions we have are longterm solutions, though we have to start them now. But we have to start the right ones, not more wrong tracks.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 08:49:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  maybe (0+ / 0-)

        Maybe research on natgas can improve efficiency.  As to converting car production to natgas, I believe it's already in use--in some city buses, and in cars in some countries--Israel and Brazil? If we search out reasons to not do something, we'll do nothing, my point is, it ain't easy, it ain't perfect, it ain't gonna be quick--when drowning, an inefficient gasp of air is great.

        Actions speak louder than petitions.

        by melvynny on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 12:23:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, No. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We are dealing with Carnot efficiency, which is a physical limit. That's why even gasoline engines max at about 25%. And further gasoline research gives us batteries to augment them, not higher efficiency.

          The research on natgas has given us 85%+ CCGT turbines. Which we can use now to power electric cars, taking advantage of that extremely high efficiency.

          Yes, some cars and buses use it. NYC's bus fleet and others have been doing it for years. Because the natgas industry, spearheaded by major owner Boone Pickens, need natgas burned inefficiently to provide excess demand, propping up the prices of the natgas glut they've created through mismanagement and political perversion.

          This gas is responsible for the fracking that's destroying our essential water supplies. The glut is short lived, and already this Winter - so soon - there were shortages that cranked up prices.

          Research isn't magic. The return on research investment in more efficient internal natgas combustion engines is small, and would require major infrastructure investments even if it did pay off - giving us only more efficient car engines, and not much more at that. Plus carrying the generator around is inherently inefficient. Research into electric cars spins off into so many other sectors that are much further behind, especially energy storage and recharging efficiencies. The research underway is already improving all kinds of nanotech, materials, quantum mechanics and manufacturing.

          Of course, you and anyone else is free to research increased efficiency natgas cars. I'm sure others are doing so, especially since there are natgas fleets operating at under 20% efficiency. But if you hope that we'll replace our gasoline and diesel vehicles with natgas, you're going to be disappointed. The much more effective research is in switching vehicles to electric, and natgas to more efficient electrical generation that can approach 100%. And that's almost certainly what we're going to get. Unless Boone Pickens and his cronies in the natgas sales business frack us to oblivion after selling us on natgas cars even worse than the gasoline cars that made them so rich and powerful, and are coming close to extincting us.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 07:42:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  That's why (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      he is also involved with SolarCity to develop home based solar panels, and home battery storage technology to store that electricity for use during off hours.

      Sigline? What Sigline?

      by Khun David on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 10:08:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just wondering... (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know much about electric cars - how they are charged, how long it takes to charge them, how long they hold a charge, etc. - but our neighbor just installed a bunch of solar panels on his roof.  Could you use solar power to charge the battery in your car, say overnight, like you charge your phone's?

      •  solar overnight charging.... (0+ / 0-)

        Think about that for a second....

        Obviously, you'll need to store any solar-generated power for overnight charging.  That means 2 conversions: from your home storage to the car.

        I'm no EE, but IIRC each step introduces inefficiencies and loss into the system.  It could be done, but not as well as charging the car directly, which of course is not practical, 'cuz daytime is when it gets used.

    •  Charge during off-peak hours (0+ / 0-)

      That's why electric utilities offer attractive off-peak rates - to even out the baseline load. Electric cars typically have onboard timers to enable this.

  •  This is just smart (0+ / 0-)

    and I bet that a lot of Movement Conservative economists and resident scholars hate the shit out of it because it's about putting the big picture and down the road ahead of the 24 hour newscycle and what about today.

    "Real journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations." -George Orwell

    by LeftHandedMan on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 07:03:18 PM PDT

  •  I await the Koch brothers to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Khun David

    put the full weight of their immense fortune in opposing Tesla and the entire EV industry, as they have done here and here. Sadly, this is not mere rhetoric. They really are that evil.

    Primo pro nummata vini [First of all it is to the wine-merchant] (-7.25, -6.21)

    by Tim DeLaney on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 07:12:39 PM PDT

  •  Wise idea (3+ / 0-)

    After reading a bit about the Wright Brothers this is a good idea. They spent all their time defending patents for their airplane and missed all innovation. They went down in flames so to speak.

    He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice. Albert Einstein

    by Cairns on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 07:19:22 PM PDT

  •  Public Domain Would Be Better (0+ / 0-)

    I am a big fan of Elon Musk. I think his bold move promising not to sue people using his patents is a very good thing, and while beneficial to Tesla/him, not at all necessary - and somewhat risky (as a public company).

    However, it is not necessary to keep patents for defending one's use of them. If one simply puts the patent in the public domain, by publishing that statement (and perhaps the PTO has a procedure for that), then one is perfectly safe from any lawsuit for using it. Just as anyone else would be to use it.

    Instead, Musk just promised, in an open letter, "Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology". That letter is nonbinding, as the past year of companies "changing their mind" after making such promises has proven in courts. Tesla can sue any user of the technology under the patents, if they did so "in bad faith", according to Tesla.

    None of that would be true under public domain patents. Though Tesla would still retain every right to implement the patents, which would be even cheaper and easier to defend as public domain than as "promise to share with those in good faith".

    Again, I like Musk, admire him a lot, and appreciate his release, to whatever degree, of these patents. But he's got more agenda than he admits, and more than just the good feeling he's now riding from their appearance. Don't get too carried away.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 08:39:13 PM PDT

  •  Allow me to retort (0+ / 0-)

    There will always be a segment of the population that likes to go fast, that likes the sound coming from an engine, and could care less about electric cars, much less ones costing $100,000. Thinking that everyone will be happy with an electric car is beyond delusional.

    Leave the enthusiasts alone.

  •  Tesla and Musk (0+ / 0-)

    When I first read this story, I cried Happy-Tears for DAYS! Here is finally an industrialist who has a heart, and is making a difference.
    Unlike the vast majority of our corporate and political  "leaders", HE GETS IT!!

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