Tesla Will Open Some Patents for the Good of the Electric Car Industry

Tesla Will Open Some Patents for the Good of the Electric Car Industry

Tesla Supercharger 310x

Elon Musk wants to open up patents related to Tesla's Supercharger platform.

Thinking about electric cars? Tesla Motors probably comes to mind, along with the Chevy Volt. Tesla has come to be a powerhouse of sorts in the U.S., where its sales numbers in some states are rivaling luxury car manufacturers.

But the electric is a long way from being the norm in American driveways. So much so, that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is taking steps to electrify open standards among all electric car makers.

Speaking at the Tesla UK launch, Musk said that he plans to open patents related to Tesla's Supercharger platform. For the uninitiated, Supercharger stations gas station-esque locations where Tesla Model S owners can charge their cars for free. A full charge takes around an hour to complete, and the lifetime cost of electricity used is factored into the selling price of the Model S.

Tesla currently has proprietary technology that makes such super-quick battery charging possible, but Musk wants to open up the tech to potential partners. The catch? Any company that partners with Tesla needs to follow the "free for life" charging policy used by Musk and Co. Partners would also have to chip in to the existing Supercharger network -- helping with maintenance costs, expansion plans, etc.

With companies like GM, Toyota, and Honda, among others, in the plug-in electric car mix, it will be interesting to see if any of these larger automakers bite. I could see Toyota playing ball, if only because of their past relationship with Tesla.

Source: Engadget

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This seems like a win win win Tesla get great PR and the popularisation of electric automobiles, the other companies get some really bleeding edge tech for one of the major hurdles of electric vehicles (charging), and the consumer both gets more competition and Tesla preventing people undercutting car prices to charge on juice instead (buying a product completly up front is nice)

Whilst it is cool that they are opening up some of the patents and allowing other companies to use them I still can see no reason why anybody would want to use an electric car - they are extremely damaging to the environment, they are pretty damn expensive and you have the problems with range and charging time.

I suppose if nothing else this can at least help to push forward the industry and hopefully we will finally get something worth a damn in the electric car market - especially if it encourages the development of new technologies such as the cotton battery.

As long as the oil industry loses it's a win for me.

This is really smart, if they get everyone in the industry using tech compatible with their charging stations they encourage other companies to invest in charging stations as well. More charging stations = more appeal for electric cars.

SerBrittanicus:
Whilst it is cool that they are opening up some of the patents and allowing other companies to use them I still can see no reason why anybody would want to use an electric car - they are extremely damaging to the environment, they are pretty damn expensive and you have the problems with range and charging time.

I suppose if nothing else this can at least help to push forward the industry and hopefully we will finally get something worth a damn in the electric car market - especially if it encourages the development of new technologies such as the cotton battery.

Extremely damaging to the environment? Compared to regular cars? Really? Do you have a source on this?

Not going to happen. The parts of the country that can afford to spend 50k on car are the parts of the country were a house built on the same spot would worth 750k+. A straight numbers comparison means that you can make a greater return by building housing on the same plot, than you can by building a charging station.

synobal:
This is really smart, if they get everyone in the industry using tech compatible with their charging stations they encourage other companies to invest in charging stations as well. More charging stations = more appeal for electric cars.

It can also work as a cost saving measure for the companies in question. "Oh hey, if we make our BMWs compatible with both BMW and Tesla supercharging stations, we can save millions in R&D and build half as many supercharging stations!"

This was sounding good until I read the free for life requirement. Elon Musk has a good intention for this. Instead of having to either wait longer at a charging station because you car doesn't support the faster changing tech or find one compatible with your vehicle. That would be like being in an unfamiliar place trying to find diesel[1] or a station that has separate hoses for different octanes.[2] It will also promote more stations being installed, giving the cars more range and better appeal.

But, the oil industry, who of course will slow the the electric car phenomenon down until they get in on the profits, will talk to their buddy execs in the auto world to sway against that. Executives in the auto industry in general might not like the free fuel ideal. It raises the initial cost of the vehicle, making financially challenged customers shy away from an electric model for a fuel efficient gasoline model. Until charging station are widespread the demand for them wont be there making it a risky venture with slow returns at first.

[1] It would also be like cell phones before micro USB became standard for virtually every model. BTW, Apple, you wanna get in on that instead of shoving lightning down people's throats?
[2] Try being on a motorcycle that likes premium and having to pump that 15-20% of your tank's capacity in cheap stuff before you get what you want.

Mromson:

Extremely damaging to the environment? Compared to regular cars? Really? Do you have a source on this?

Britt may be thinking of the environmental damage caused by the manufacture of the batteries for the Prius.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/does-hybrid-car-production-waste-offset-hybrid-benefits1.htm

The mining of the rare earth metals (especially the nickel) causes more damage to the environment than the total emissions of an H2 during its lifetime.

http://www.pdegraaf.com/articles/prius.html

While I've not seen any comparison of the Prius batteries to the batteries used in a Tesla, it's conceivable that similar issues could be raised.

Honestly, I want electric cars to proliferate. Full torque at 0 RPM is fucking amazing.

MinionJoe:

Mromson:

Extremely damaging to the environment? Compared to regular cars? Really? Do you have a source on this?

Britt may be thinking of the environmental damage caused by the manufacture of the batteries for the Prius.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/does-hybrid-car-production-waste-offset-hybrid-benefits1.htm

The mining of the rare earth metals (especially the nickel) causes more damage to the environment than the total emissions of an H2 during its lifetime.

http://www.pdegraaf.com/articles/prius.html

While I've not seen any comparison of the Prius batteries to the batteries used in a Tesla, it's conceivable that similar issues could be raised.

As far as I know the Tesla uses Lithium ion batteries as opposed to the Prius's nickel-metal hydride.

albino boo:

As far as I know the Tesla uses Lithium ion batteries as opposed to the Prius's nickel-metal hydride.

Er... I knew that. ;) Thank you for the reminder.

It does appear that lithium mining is far more ecological than nickel mining.

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/vehicles/how-green-are-automotive-lithium-ion-batteries.htm

There is still the copper and aluminum to consider, but it seems Tesla is on the right track. Or street. Or whatever these newfangled electrics run on.

SerBrittanicus:
they are extremely damaging to the environment

MinionJoe:

Britt may be thinking of the environmental damage caused by the manufacture of the batteries for the Prius.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/does-hybrid-car-production-waste-offset-hybrid-benefits1.htm

The mining of the rare earth metals (especially the nickel) causes more damage to the environment than the total emissions of an H2 during its lifetime.

The ecological cost of electric and hybrid vehicles during production is only slightly more than normal ICE cars due to the complex parts required (plus, car manufacturers are good at recycling). But what is more relevant is lifetime emission. Whether your electric car is more damaging depends entirely upon where your power source is drawn from. If it's a coal power plant, then yes, perhaps. But if it's renewable energy, then that's virtually zero emission. And these Tesla suercharger stations are solar powered, and about 50% of the EV buyers in the States charge their cars with their own solar PV panels.

Now assume you drive some 200 000 km's with the car before scrapped (which will most be a low figure in the case of modern EV's) and average new gasoline powered car in the UK that has 167g/km emissions, this amounts up to some 33 tonnes of CO2 during it's lifetime. You will have to change the batteries once during this time, which accounts to about 4 tons for the whole battery pack.

A gas car: 8(car)+33 tons(gas) = 41 tons.

An EV with renewables: 12(car)+0(energy)+4(batteries) = 16 tons.

Overall, when researchers compared battery-powered vehicles to their gas-fueled counterparts, they calculated that a car with an internal combustion engine would need a fuel economy of about 60 to 80 mpg to achieve a lower environmental impact than a battery-powered electric vehicle that recharged using European power sources. (Source: https://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/88/i33/8833news6.html)

It seems like people forget just how wasteful a fossil-fuel-powered infrastructure is. The supertanker used to move crude oil across the globe is diesel powered and at best 40% energy eff. The refinery used to process oil into petroleum uses up to 7.5 Kwh per gallon and the road tanker that distributes the final product is 25% energy eff. An ICE powered car is only 15% energy eff at the wheels, so 85% of all oil being moved and sold around the world becomes waste heat.

For further reading on the impact of Li-Ion batteries on the environment: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es903729a

 

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