During the Q&A portion of Tesla's annual shareholder meeting last week, CEO Elon Musk said something that caught our ear: "I'm contemplating doing something fairly significant on that front [promoting EVs] which should be kind of controversial with respect to Tesla's patents. But I probably want to write something so that I can take articulate it properly and explain the reasoning for the decision." We immediately asked Tesla for more information but it was the BBC that got to question Musk in person during the UK launch of the right-hand drive Model S (see press release and video below).

"We don't want to cut a path through the jungle and then lay a bunch of landmines behind us" – Elon Musk

The BBC asked Musk if his comment meant he was considering opening up Tesla's patents, and Musk responded with, "you're on the right track." A strong proponent of promoting EVs, Musk also said, "We don't want to cut a path through the jungle and then lay a bunch of landmines behind us."

This wouldn't be the first time Musk has given away a big idea. His outlandish hyperloop high-speed train-like transportation system was open source from the get-go. Musk has also offered to let other automakers piggyback on Tesla's Supercharger fast-charging system. Musk's SpaceX company doesn't even file patents, but that's more to protect the ideas from the Chinese than to make getting to space an open source endeavor, Musk said.

Tesla told AutoblogGreen it is offering "nothing further at this point" on the patent front, so we'll just have to guess away in the comments. Have at it, and you can watch Musk's comment at around minute 46 in the top video here.



Show full PR text
Right Hand Drive Model S Arrives in the UK

LONDON, June 7, 2014

First RHD customer deliveries in the world presented by Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk delivered five new cars to customers in London today at an event to mark the arrival of right hand drive (RHD) Model S in the UK. The occasion marks the beginning of a planned rapid expansion in the country in the coming two years.

Today, Tesla operates a store and a service centre in London. By the end of 2014, however, customers will be able to visit Tesla stores and service centres across the UK. Tesla will also continue to hold test-drive events around the country.

RHD MODEL S IN THE UK

Model S is an uncompromised electric car that delivers 502 kilometres of range on a single charge. With a 17-inch touchscreen, an outstanding safety record, and an acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds, the fully electric Model S breaks the mould. Tesla is committed to giving customers the best possible Model S experience no matter where they live. With that in mind, the company has completed a country-specific validation programme to ensure the vehicles are optimised for every market in which they are sold. Right hand drive cars in the UK come with software specific to the country and a configuration that fits the needs of owners who drive on the left hand side of the road. Everything from the wipers to the braces in the front trunk has been re-fitted for RHD.

FIRST UK SUPERCHARGER

Tesla also energised the first Supercharger location in the UK at the delivery event. The Crystal site at London's Royal Victoria Docks represents the beginning of a route to Paris and then the rest of Europe, which will enable Model S drivers to travel long distances in the UK and on the continent for free.

"Superchargers enable long distance travel but also, in a city where off street parking is rare and expensive, Model S customers will be able to access a network of Superchargers across London to charge, quickly and for free, at their convenience," said Elon Musk. "We are looking at locations across the capital to place our first set of inner city Superchargers. Our plan for routes to other cities in the UK is still on target for the end of the year, but we are also announcing this new initiative in order to best serve our London-based customers. We expect customers to be able to travel the length of the UK for free using our Superchargers within the next 18 months".

Musk said that by the end of the year Model S drivers will be able to travel almost anywhere in Europe using Superchargers. The company is energising Superchargers at a rate of close to one per weekday. More than 125 Supercharger locations are energised worldwide, with 19 locations in Europe. Tesla Superchargers have so far offset more than 2.5 million litres of petrol.

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements in this press release, including statements regarding future store, service centre and Supercharger locations and capabilities as well as statements regarding sales expectations in Europe, are "forward-looking statements" that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements are based on management's current expectations, and as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those projected. Various important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements, including potential difficulties in finding suitable store, service centre and Supercharger sites, negotiating leases or obtaining required permits for such locations and customer acceptance of our brand and vehicles in Europe and Asia, as well as the risks and uncertainties identified under the sections captioned "Risk Factors" and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results Of Operations" in Tesla's Form 10-K filed on February 26, 2014. Tesla disclaims any obligation to update information contained in these forward-looking statements.


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  • 46 Comments
      fordskydog
      • 6 Months Ago
      Holy S! Elon musk is my man crush, and my love gets stronger with every press release...
        EvilTollMan
        • 6 Months Ago
        @fordskydog
        Yeah man, I hear ya on that. This guy is the friggin man! He just continues to bend the rules of corporate america and just makes all other large corporations look greedy.
        cantdrive55
        • 6 Months Ago
        @fordskydog
        I've met the guy, incredibly humble and genuine. I'm a big fan as well!
      Unni
      • 6 Months Ago
      It looks to me like Tesla wants to hijack SAE J1772TM 3-Phase Fast Charge Connector than adapting to SAE J1772TM 3-Phase Fast Charge Connector (DC COMBO). Always open source, opening up etc are used for marketing. Even they can say " We are adapting to SAE J1772TM 3-Phase Fast Charge Connector and all Tesla superchargers and future Tesla cars comply to this standard and we will contribute to advancement of SAE J1772 ". But that wont make any news.
        Joeviocoe
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Unni
        Nope.. Musk already stated that he will not adopt such a cumbersome and ugly plug design. Tesla builds Chademo adapters, and has said that once SAE CCS is prevalent enough... they would build an adapter for that too. Tesla will keep their own connector... and the larger, bulkier connectors will need an adapter.
        Joeviocoe
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Unni
        Nope.. Musk already stated that he will not adopt such a cumbersome and ugly plug design. Tesla builds Chademo adapters, and has said that once SAE CCS is prevalent enough... they would build an adapter for that too. Tesla will keep their own connector... and the larger, bulkier connectors will need an adapter.
      Abe
      • 6 Months Ago
      Okay here's what I see as Musk's plan. Open patents will encourage more EVs to be built. EVs NEED BATTERIES. His gigafactories are the best supplier for batteries, which allows the economies of scale to work in his favor to lower the price of batteries for Teslas. He sells more cars and even more batteries.
      bluepongo1
      • 6 Months Ago
      Wonky comments submission, sorry if double post: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/527926/exotic-highly-efficient-solar-cells-may-soon-get-cheaper/
      Tom C
      • 6 Months Ago
      While electric cars are hard to justify in terms of economic benefits to owners, I think it's nonetheless true that Elon Musk is the most innovative and far-sighted business leader in America today. Endless respect for that guy.
        EZen
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Tom C
        Everyone's shooting for the $30k electric car and that seems very much attainable before 2020. That's a bit expensive but when you consider your other costs it's not too bad. 12,000 miles per year for the normal 6 years of ownership at $4/gallon with a regular 40mpg car would be $7200 and that's being generous on those costs and mpg. So, now the car actually cost you about $23,000. I believe you still get a couple grand to buy a vehicle like this so that's even further down. The running gear costs are high but maintenance is almost nothing and the ease of repair is incredible. You can repair most components in a few minutes whereas labor costs in a gasoline car are immense as they get more complicated and compact in the engine compartment (higher labor). Honestly, a $30,000 to $35,000 Tesla Model E will sell incredibly well.
          Grendal
          • 6 Months Ago
          @EZen
          Boy do I hate the word subsidize. It is the go-to word for people that don't think for themselves. Most people that use it have no clue what they are talking about and are always misinformed. The more accurate word would be "support." Why? Because the government spends $0.00 on the purchase of a Tesla or any other EV or EREV. You just get to keep some of your own taxes instead of giving to the government to spend. That does create a shortfall that will likely be picked up by taxpayers. How much is it? 60 cents. That's what you are making such a fuss about. An amount you probably paid in 1 gallon of gasoline, definitely in 2 gallons. You also bring up the talking point of "let the market work!" If that was true then GM, Ford, and Chrysler would be out of business and you'd be forced to ride a bicycle. Instead they were all given billions to stay in business and have received generous government support for decades. So your fair playing field isn't really fair in any way. You have just picked and chosen what you think the market is and what you've been told is correct. I realize the world is very complex but please, PLEASE, start thinking for yourself instead of reciting someone else's talking points.
          kingfala
          • 6 Months Ago
          @EZen
          Sure, and all of you potential EV buyers should send loads of thank-you cards to the tax-payers who are forced to subsidize another millionaire and his expensive toys. Let them stand on their own, for goodness sakes and let the market work!
      purrpullberra
      • 6 Months Ago
      I don't think this is the right thing to do and it is not the right time to even consider it. I think Elon knows this will be controversial as he has said he needs to write out the explanation first. I'm convinced the best, most effective way to get EV's as popular as possible ASAP is to continue to make kick a$$ cars that are far and away better than anything else out there. Having the ModelS and ModelX be the biggest selling cars in their class (which is and will be the case respectively) and then adding in the ultra-affordable genIII car would have Tesla selling more EV's than anyone (but Ghosn) thought possible. By then the lesson Tesla is teaching would be learned by a few other manufacturers. None of them really get it yet. Even Nissan isn't all in IMO with the Leaf due to a lack of battery temp control. And it's ugly to too many folks compared to the Tesla's. I think the amounts Tesla may charge to use the patents could be small enough to make no real difference to the ultimate price, like $10 a car, but it would add up to Tesla. Make them pay for Supercharger access too. I haven't yet heard one good explanation of why/how the patents are the problem meaning other makers can't possibly make comparable cars. IMO it seems to be either stupidity, an inability to see the Tesla reality or a hatred of EV tech that are the real obstacles.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 6 Months Ago
      Tesla will not be around in & years. Mark my words. EVERY single electric car company failed. Codanfailed. Miles failed. Aptera failed. Fisker failed. What makes Elon Musk think Tesla is ANY different? The Model S is nothing more than a 6/5 scale Coda with a Fisker price.
        bluepongo1
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        I realize you won't understand my response, because it is for folks who aren't spoon-fed by the media : Tesla Motors owns the patents, manufacturing and supply chain for all of its vehicles from day one(The tech is the difference.) . Fisker is what happens when you don't make your tech in-house. Coda was created to game the Gov. loan system. Miles ? did they have a viable machine ? Govermedia employee Elon Musk can do whatever he wants with his irrelevant patents, he can't do anything about patents he doesn't own. I hope this story gets some follow-up so people don't forget he was the one taking credit for work he didn't do and making promises for vehicles / pricepoints which he doesn't have the means to make.
          bluepongo1
          • 6 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          @ Grendal ? now I'm confused, could you high-light what you think I am turned around on ?
          Grendal
          • 6 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          Thanks for clearing it up. Much appreciated.
          Grendal
          • 6 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          What turned you around on Tesla? Or have you hijacked bluepongo1's account? I'm confused.
          bluepongo1
          • 6 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          @ clquake I'm not here to argue you can believe whatever you want / read , you actually proved my point because business' , lobbyists, Yale figure-heads, & etc. are revolving door employees to get away with conflicts of intrest. Ancestry.com is a good place to start if you ever want to see the truth about the US monarchy. If you want to start at the begining try: - Mary Mc Cormick ( or Mac Cormack I forget it was a while ago when I did the research.) exiled to the US penal colonies for prostitution on the Mayflower prison ship. Good luck believing the media & internet without doing any research.
          Grendal
          • 6 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          Calling Elon a Govermedia employee? Taking credit for others work. Or were you just being sarcastic? As I mentioned in another thread a couple days ago I can be pretty obtuse at times.
          bluepongo1
          • 6 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          @ Grendal Sorry, reply/comments extra wonky here so I couldn't reply in a timely manner.All CEO's are appointed Gov. employees at that level & B.S. only rolls downhill, so the folks who blame companies and not the Govermedia are mistaken. The Supercharger, Roadster, S & X patents pre-date the Gov. narrative with Elon by years ( BTW I have no problem with Elon if it wasn't him it would just be some other Gov. employee and the same manufactured media drama to distract folks.) . Tesla Motors =/= Elon Musk
          bluepongo1
          • 6 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          sorry double post, comment submission extra wonky for me lately.
          clquake
          • 6 Months Ago
          @bluepongo1
          Did you just say the gov't picks the ceo's? I think your tin foil hat has a leak. I've worked with many Fortune 500 CEO's, and most have gotten to their position through hard work, and I'm pretty sure that it's the other way around. Gov't is full of people who used to run top companies, i.e. Goldman, Citi, Chase, etc.
        Lamborandon
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        You know what, you are so right. LOLOLOLOLOLOL
        mawhalen53
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        0/10 trolling
        Jim1961
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Tesla is different. If you can't see the difference, you're either blind or a willfully ignorant conservative.
          cantdrive55
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Jim1961
          What does being a conservative have to do with being ignorant? Plenty of willfully ignorant liberals out there as well.
        ssdajoker
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Let me guess, you are one of the losers that didn't make money on Tesla?
        Grendal
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        What makes Elon Musk think Tesla is ANY different? Maybe the fact that it is already successful and has plans in place for building on that success.
        Daniel D
        • 6 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Go and text somebody.
      Grendal
      • 6 Months Ago
      The question/statement that initiated this is "Why haven't other manufacturers begun to make compelling EVs?" Personally, I'd rather him wait until Tesla has solidified their position as the premiere EV automaker (after the Gen III car begins production) to free up the patents. It's Elon's company and he feels strongly about this and money is not as important to him as achieving his goals.
      EvilTollMan
      • 6 Months Ago
      Now we know for sure that Apple and Tesla won't be working together. lol jk
      Joeviocoe
      • 6 Months Ago
      Process vs Patents Tesla is a Process company. There is no real "secret sauce" that allows Tesla to excel. They have simply decided to create a unique process to meet the goal of "best car, not just best EV" Think about. What is their biggest secret? The cell arrangement of their battery packs. Not magic. Just optimization of something every EV automaker has to do. Same for Copper Wound AC induction motors too. Tesla can be confident to open patents, since they know that it is their process that larger automakers are too big to follow.
        JakeY
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        I'm surprised to here this coming from someone who had been following Tesla for quite some time. Look up "tesla motors" in the patent database. You will quickly find they do have a lot of "secret sauce" to their battery pack (from cell level all the way to vehicle integration). They have enough patents in the small cell area that it's unlikely for other automakers to build a pack using similar size cells without using at least one of their patents. http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html Sure, other automakers can just buy a Model S and dissect it (as they can do with any car), but it's the patents that prevent them from taking the same approach in a production vehicle, even if they know how it works.
          Joeviocoe
          • 6 Months Ago
          @JakeY
          Well.. it looks as though Tesla is confident enough that they don't have a "secret sauce" that they are willing to open up all patents.
          Joeviocoe
          • 6 Months Ago
          @JakeY
          Right.. I do not believe that any automaker currently has a "secret sauce" for their cars. They outsource most of their parts/components. Really it comes down to efficient and effective processes. Remember in the 80's-90's when the Japanese came in and, to the surprise of most, completely turned around the automotive world? They didn't have a new technology... they had a process. Think Michael Keaton in "Gung Ho". Sure, IP is still important, and can be the difference between points of market share. But they are mostly for optimization of design. Looking back to old Tesla, and how they dared build a car company... what was their biggest hurdle? They underestimated the huge logistical nightmare of an American car company. It wasn't the technology that needed to be invented... although they hit snags with the 2-speed transmission, (which turned out to be an outsourcing logistics issue at heart) It was figuring out an innovative process, rather than some key panacea technical invention (after all, Li-ion batteries and AC motors were already invented). I would say that Software is becoming the chief "secret" that must be protected... It also happens to be the easiest thing for an amatuer to invent or steal.
          JakeY
          • 6 Months Ago
          @JakeY
          @Joeviocoe Sure, it won't be impossible to build a 18650 pack and work around Tesla's patents, but it'll be much more difficult. It's not just the number, but also the breadth of the patents. I'm curious what you would consider "secret sauce"? By your standard it would seem no manufacturer out there has "secret sauce", since there are no designs out there can't be worked around by other methods (even if it results in sub-optimal results).
          Joeviocoe
          • 6 Months Ago
          @JakeY
          Number of patents does not equal a "secret sauce" that a company's success might hinge upon. I did mention how Tesla's pack has many secrets.... but without those secrets, other automakers might be stuck at producing a 75 kwh battery instead of 85 kwh (given the same resources but without the IP). That is not something that should be considered a "secret sauce". Other automakers who use Large Format batteries also have a large portfolio of patents related to the internals of their packs... but no one could say that "it's unlikely for other automakers to build a pack using similar size cells without using at least one of their patents." Tesla does NOT have a patent lock on 18650 cell based pack design.
        Grendal
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        More recent articles seem to be saying that Tesla will open up their patents on Supercharging, not the battery packs. The caveat will be that anyone that uses the tech must give away the charge for free. I'm not sure how they'll police such a thing, but there you have it.
          Bogie
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          I believe Tesla would rather sell the battery packs. During the press conference Elon said something along of the lines that: Tesla can't currently provide Toyota battery packs because that means they won't have the battery pack to go into a Tesla. No surplus, but when their gigafactory goes up they'll be able to. Now with Tesla also doing all this work to have a second site available as a contingency (or maybe to see which provides better incentives, who knows?) Is it that far fetched to see both open and Tesla providing batteries for Toyota among a couple other automakers?
          Joeviocoe
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Grendal
          Very true... I agree that Supercharger patents are far more enticing to release. Battery patents being made open would not benefit Tesla on any scale. But Superchargers, definitely, since Tesla drivers could benefit from a more robust infrastructure.
      jeff
      • 6 Months Ago
      This is a GREAT idea doomed to fail. Tesla has hands down built the best fast charging system BY ANY MEASURE and the connectors in uses in the US and Europe are far superior to the Chademo or ISA Combo plug. However NO other car company is forward thinking enough to admit that they were wrong and Tesla is right....PERIOD!!!! I suspect that Tesla is doing this as a defensive move. NO ONE will have any legal/moral/ethical case to whine about when Tesla builds out their network and their cars can't charge there. NO OTHER CAR COMPANY is building truly competive fast charging network.
        HollywoodF1
        • 6 Months Ago
        @jeff
        I disagree. Car companies buy and copy each other's ideas as a normal course of business. Pride has a price, and the car companies know what that price it-- shareholder happiness. The "what about them?" mentality among shareholders is the strongest force in public company capitalism. If shareholders see another company making money a certain way, they say to their board, "What about them?" And suddenly, business as usual becomes business as the other guys do it.
        HollywoodF1
        • 6 Months Ago
        @jeff
        I disagree. Car companies buy and copy each other's ideas as a normal course of business. Pride has a price, and the car companies know what that price it-- shareholder happiness. The "what about them?" mentality among shareholders is the strongest force in public company capitalism. If shareholders see another company making money a certain way, they say to their board, "What about them?" And suddenly, business as usual becomes business as the other guys do it. P.S.— please stop using all-caps. Everybody hates that, and it makes your good points go away.
      rlog100
      • 6 Months Ago
      If he meant it, he wouldn't use a proprietary charging plug making Tesla charging stations useless for other EVs. Right now everyone else can use everyone else's. Better for EV adoptions with the scarcity of chargers. With an adapter Tesla can use those too. But No one else can use their proprietary plug.
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