Elon Musk opens up Tesla patents to the competition – is he crazy?

Elon Musk has accomplished many amazing feats. He leads the way in electric cars with Tesla, has made private space travel and transportation feasible (even beating NASA on quality), and he has produced the absolute best business model for residential solar energy generation with SolarCity.

But his latest move has pundits really scratching their heads. Musk announced Thursday that Tesla was opening its technology patents up for use by other competitors. The Chicago Tribune has more:

Tesla also will open up the technology it is using to build its supercharger network, a chain of charging stations to rapidly recharge Tesla cars, that the automaker is building nationwide. Musk said he already had talked to BMW about sharing the network…

“Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced,” he said, “but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day…”

Irwin said Tesla is likely surprised that no other automaker has adopted the small cylindrical battery cell technology that has given the company’s vehicles double or triple the driving range of other electric cars. Tesla started using the technology seven years ago in its first model, the Roadster, and more recently in its Model S luxury car.

Source: Chicago Tribune, via Consumerist

What’s the Point?

While other people might think that Musk is crazy (something I can neither confirm nor deny, as is the case with most geniuses), I think this is just a really smart move to accelerate adoption of non-gasoline vehicles. His company already has massive leads on any potential competitors, but without competitors, Tesla remains an odd status symbol in certain (mostly California) neighborhoods.

I remain a firm believer in the power of open source technology. The business model becomes less about protecting proprietary secrets, and more about delivering a better quality of service. Everyone wins.


Image courtesy Wikimedia