by Greg Klein | June 12, 2014
The entire collection of Tesla Motors electric vehicle patents now belongs “to you,” CEO Elon Musk has decreed. In a June 12 blog post, Musk said the patents “have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology…. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
Musk explained that the patents were intended to protect the company from major manufacturers which “would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla.”
“We couldn’t have been more wrong,” he stated. “The unfortunate reality is the opposite: Electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.”
Yet the market is enormous,” he maintained. “Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately two billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. 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.”
In March Tesla announced its intention to build a $5-billion “Gigafactory” to manufacture lithium-ion batteries, which would begin production in the southwestern United States by 2017. The company, however, has committed only $2 billion of the start-up costs. In the authoritative journal Industrial Minerals, Simon Moores wrote that Musk “is known for his big ideas, most of which have turned into successful ventures that have changed the way we use and think about technology.” Moores added that “Tesla and Musk are aiming to replicate for EVs what Ford Motor Corp did for commercializing the market for gasoline-powered cars, almost exactly 100 years ago.”
Moores’ June 6 article, and an accompanying report entitled Tesla’s $5bn Question, examined the factory’s potential impact on graphite, cobalt and lithium.