Tesla opens patents

Elon Musk said today that all the patents related to the Tesla automobiles will be open sourced to encourage development of electric cars. There is an article in USAToday about it. What do you think? I think it’s great, and I also think he is trying to generate customers for the lithium ion batteries he plans to build in his new factory. But what the heck. Give a little and get a little.

Some different then the lack of benevolence of others.
Though we should all not be lulled into thinking they aren’t a business decision.

Tesla is feathering his own bed but we can benefit overall. They still have their trade secrets, however! I think they are creating a market for not just their batteries but maybe the exact form of their batteries. Battery swaps make for a very rapid turnaround at the energy station but are useless unless every car maker uses common size battery packs. This could be a brilliant move on Tesla’s part to drive that standardization.

long live ben franklin! long live elon musk!

There are no losers on this one. Everybody wins.
Elon Musk is tomorrow’s Bill Gates. Mr. Gates created the world’s greatest wealth and the largest industry in the world (many would say he literally changed the world) by focusing on licensing of the software and letting others “pile on” rather than by creating a “closed architecture” like Apple did. Elon Musk’s automotive power systems are the “MS operating systems” of the future.

Me, I’m just a mere human, but I said long ago that Musk’s goals were to provide technology rather than make cars. My guess is that what we’re seeing in Tesla cars is just the beginning of a whole new technology, just like MS-DOS was the beginning of a whole new world. I’m psyched.

It certainly isn’t coming from the automotive world who have little to gain in mass producing an inexpensive EV. It will take efforts like this along with a commitment to make assembly lines sufficient to make such vehicles cheap enough for the masses. Just the chassis alone, not even considering the battery or drive train is too expensive to make in numbers great enough to make an impact unless big corporations get behind the effort.

How profit is to be realized is on a much different level then that of a regular automobiles which have so many moving parts to be replaced and maintained. EVs need the profit making scheme of a refrigerator or other appliance then that of an auto. When the routine maintenance looks like “check the air in the tires and fill the washer fluid reservoir” , entrepreneurs with an eye to the future and not year end profits need to be involved.

The efforts of both Gates and Apple need to be applauded. Both had profit in mind but by not licensing every tom, dick and Harry to write their software, computer operating could be simplified though limited, and made more reliable in operation and above all, more assessable by Apple. Apple introduce itself to the world as much through the IPod as it did the computer alone. That the systems now have more in common then differences shows there is much to be applauded by having both in the computer world.

The same should be true for the EV. At some point, the energy corporations which have vested interests in oil will, and have begun promoting energy cells in lieu of batteries which give them a foot hold in continuing their control over metering out fuels at their profit margins. It will take an “evolution” in batteries, not in type, as they now exist, but in a willingness to mass produce them cheaply.

IMHO, it has less to do with innovation and the lithium battery as it does with maximizing profits at the expense of the consumer. Just for the sake of argument, pretend for a moment that technology for an inexpensive battery for a full functioning EV now did exist. What would the incentive be to mass produce an inexpensive EV for everyone by the auto industry or with the support of energy corporations ??? None ! That’s why it has to be done independently.

I guess I don’t know enough about it but I understand his investors have been rather unhappy. Maybe like GM who said they were in the parts business instead of the car business, Tesla will be in the battery business instead of the car business. Dunno, but the grid will need a little work.

All I can say is"you can lead a horse to water.,"-Kevin

@Bing GM may have SAID they were in the parts business rather than the car business… But they spun off their parts business, Delphi, in 1999. Then they were in the car business.

Then they were in the car business.

Actually for decades they were in the Finance business. They made more money in the finance division then the Car divisions. And that’s where the effort was…and one of the main reasons of their decline.

Regardless of who might benefit financially, the act of opening up patents will enable others to make bigger strides moving the technology forward.

Ultimately we’ll all benefit from it.

computer operating could be simplified though limited, and made more reliable in operation and above all, more assessable by Apple.

Both Apple and Microsoft operating systems were propitiatory software. As it should be. Microsoft’s approach was to make it easy for companies to write software for. Apple took a much more isolation approach. And that was one of the biggest problems for Apple. And why Apple when from #1 in PC’s to almost nothing…until they re-invented themselves with things like the IPod…then IPhone…and IPad.

Their IPhone and IPad are excellent devices (I have both). But Apple is loosing in the Apps war. I can write an app for the IPhone with my PC and PC development kit. But in order for me to put it in the Apple Store I need an Apple computer. That’s just lame. Apple had a huge jump over Droids and Microsoft phones…but they’re catching up fast. This may not be good for Apple. But we’ll see.

Wow, I remember our first machines were CPM and thought that was the wave of the future. We had some pretty intense discussions about Apple vs non-apple when it came to buying computers, setting up networks for email and general use etc. The graphics folks really did need the Apples but in general the IBM types were much more suited to general business use due to the software available. One division insisted on using only Apple for their networks and of course they were not compatible with anyone else.

Then of course I remember having to battle with the main frame folks who wouldn’t let anyone have a PC and wanted everything run through the mainframe at humongous cost and long lead time. $10,000 word processors were ok but not a $2500 PC that could do more. I finally won my case when I said I wasn’t about to spend $10,000 for machines that a $2500 PC could do the same work plus data and spread sheets. I never heard from her again and she left me along.

Little did we know that we were at the forefront of the whole computer explosion and had made the correct decisions in the process.

@mustangman It was Bob Lutz that said it in his book “Car Guys and Bean Counters”. I don’t know when he was talking about but think his last tenure was from 2000 to 2010 so must have been after spinning off Delphi. Probably a whole nuther discussion topic on the wisdom of verticle intergration versus outsourcing.

Ford was totally vertically integrated and even made their own glass in St. Paul as well as power. Lots of the old established companies controled much of the manufacturing from foundry to assembly to sales. But now businesses have shifted to outsourcing everything and simply being the controller in the middle. I think it is a mistake myself.

I listened to a lecture recently on companies dealing with Asia for sourcing. The basic message was to make sure you have secondary sources for critical materials or you’ll be dead. I think many US companies including defense are highly vulnerable to single sources from unreliable areas of the world, not to get off topic completely.

Wow, I remember our first machines were CPM and thought that was the wave of the future.

Computers running CPM were a little more then Toys. There weren’t many applications you could buy. My first PC was a DEC Rainbow running CPM and then MS-DOS. I was still programming in C and Fortran on Vax Systems. But the Rainbow intrigued me. And when the opportunity arose I switched to writing programs for the Windows 3.1. Never want back to Mainframe/Mini programming again. PC’s was where the future was. And has been for over 20+ years.

Less expensive batteries will happen because someone will make money doing it. If the patents for NiMH batteries expire this year and the current owners have not locked them down with other patents, then anyone will be able to get into the NiMH battery business.

@Bing and @MikeInNH, both of you make good points about GM and Ford. GMAC pulled in big bucks for GM when their car sales got pillaged by the influx of Japanese and German cars. They held the paper on the cars in dealer showrooms and often took the note when sold.

Both finance and vertical integration should have made GM a power never to be broken. They were part of the downfall. Vertical integration, as Ford showed and as GM expanded, should be the lowest cost way to produce a anything. I’m including financing in that, too. When the beast gets too big to control, it all goes wrong. I include both white and blue collars on that beast. Just-in-time delivery in the hands of an angry UAW is just as bad as supplier problems in the text of a change order signed off by an engineer.

Ford, GM and Toyota, too, have all fought the beast. Ford and Toyota are winning, for now, GM is on its heels. Maybe Barra can get a choker on the beast, time will tell.

I was reading the other day that Apple is offering its OS upgrades for free now, in the hopes that everyone will upgrade and developers can write within the newer parameters for their apps and such.

I worked at a large international corporation when PC’s came out, and they cost a fortune. My boss told me the reason the company would spend that kind of money was the spreadsheet. The people who created the spreadsheet did not copyright it.

The spreadsheets saved management very large amounts of time. And, the management use is what got the high priced PC in serious production, when most of us were using TRS-80’s or Apples.

As price came down, of course the market widened very fast, which again drove the price down even further. It has been quite a while since I paid more than $500 for a computer, and that is a laptop in most cases. I use Linux which gives me free photo editing and other goodies so I have no need for a more expensive machine.

And, as pointed out, the technical standards for the PC were opened up for all. So, individuals could make fun things, like a wind speed monitor or a water level monitor for dams, because all the information was wide open.

Apple was quoted as saying, “We provide all the programs anyone really needs.” Which was clearly a great mistake, much like Henry Ford saying anyone could have any color car they wanted as long as it was black…

In my company, we used PC’s for test equipment, with special interfaces we designed and built. With printers, we could even automate production of data packages.

Before I retired, I wrote in C a complex impedance transformation program that could be run on any PC, even the 1980’s version with no HD, just as a training exercise. I was told when I left, they used that program in testing.

Others with more knowledge may correct what i was told.