Tesla's Elon Musk champions open source cars: 'All Our Patent Are Belong To You'


#1

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#2

I wonder how long until big car companies start patent lawsuits against Tesla now that they've dropped out of the MAD deal that is the current patent system? One of the biggest reasons to build a patent portfolio these days is to have something to use against other companies that threaten to exercise their patents against you, making such legislation a no-win situation. That's why patent trolls are such a huge problem, because they don't make anything your own array of defensive patents are useless against them which is why they're running amok in the legal system.

You basically can't make anything these days without running afoul of a few overly broad patents, especially not something like a car where there might be patents on stupid things like the shape of the pedal (yes, we thought of rectangles, you can't use them unless you pay us!) or the distance of the shifter from the driver's seat.

Plus Tesla also includes what is basically a smartphone in each car, so they also have tech industry patent trolls to deal with.

This move is going to play well online, but it could be disastrous for Tesla in the long run. Vigorous patent actions can seriously drag a company down. Look at RIM and what happened with the email to a phone patent.


#3

"Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology."

They haven't actually alleviated themselves of their patents, they've just promised not to stop other people from building things with them. I'm sure using them as a counter-measure against others who would try to ruin their business is still in the cards if it comes to that.


#4

In Musk's defense, he said that they were not goig to file suit for infringements on their patents made in good faith. They are still going to patent things whenever possible, and likely leverage them as needs dictate.

Edit: Jinx! Buy me a coke!


#5

I'm putting a NEMA 14-50 in the wall of my garage Saturday in celebration of this event.

Edit: Operation was a success, although I had to rewire an entire sub-panel in the barn due to substandard grounds and code violations. We now have a level 2 charging station, two level 1 chargers... and a honking big NEMA 14-50 receptacle in case anybody with a Tesla drops by!


#6

Oh that wacky Elon! What will he do next?

But it is seriously depressing that electric cars haven't gone very far.


#7

Why don't we just be gracious?
Thanks Elon.


#8

Fuck yeah, Elon Musk

That is all.


#9

Increasing electric car use -> less pollution near us -> increased lifespans

I dub thee the ELONgator!


#11

I think this was why:

http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com/

I'm sure the game is changing as we type.


#12

Edit to add: Tesla Motors is still struggling to build cars as fast as consumers are willing to buy them, and they aren't even spending money on advertising. I think we're genuinely on the cusp of a big market shift.


#13

Your chart is for cumulative sales, not for monthly sales. Basically, it shows the number of EVs on the road.

Obviously the total number of EVs sold since 2010 will continue to rise, but this doesn't necessarily mean that monthly sales are increasing. Steady monthly sales would result in a linear cumulative graph, and while this graph shows growing monthly sales (which is expected given the nascence of pure EVs), you would also need to compare it to a graph of all car sales to see whether EV sales are growing faster than IC sales over the same period.


#14

Sales for plug-in electric vehicles in the U.S. more than doubled in 2013, and Tesla isn't the only major manufacturer that can't keep up with demand. I doubt the same could be said for gasoline powered cars.


#15

More than doubled? More like an 84% increase, per your link. The link also notes that a lot of that growth (about 35%) came from the S, which was first sold only in mid 2012 and then only in limited numbers. So basically a lot of growth came from a product that wasn't being made that much in 2012. Your link also notes that cars like the Leaf only started to sell in higher numbers after manufacturers cut prices significantly in response to underwhelming consumer demand (and that's even with the generous tax credits available for EV purchases).

So I'm not sure that EVs have got that far. Tesla makes an amazing product that competes at the high end of the market. But just as not everyone is going to be able to buy a Porsche, not everyone is going to be able to buy a Tesla. At the other end EVs are having to compete in terms of value, and I'm not sure they're doing a great job at it: when you need big price cuts in addition to huge tax credits, this suggests most consumers don't see the value as of yet.


#16

The 84% figure includes plug-in hybrids. Electric-only sales more than doubled.


#17

You said that "[s]ales for plug-in electric vehicles in the U.S. more than doubled," but the headline of the article you're quoting says that "U.S. Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales Nearly Double In 2013." They obviously consider pug-in hybrids to be a type of plug-in electrics, and don't require them to be pure EVs.

At any rate, if you only look at pure EV's as apparently you are, here's what the link says:

Fully-electric vehicles — that are only powered by electrically-charged batteries — saw a 241 percent jump in 2013, to 47,600 in total. These sales were largely driven by Tesla Motors’ Model S, which sold 18,800 vehicles in 2013, and Nissan’s Leaf, which jumped 130 percent from 2012 sales to a total of 22,610 this year.
[. . .]
Some models did not sell as well as automakers initially hoped, which lead to price cuts. These lower prices did the trick and allowed more people to be able to afford electric and hybrid vehicles. Nissan dropped the base price of the Leaf 18 percent to $28,800, which had a lot to do with the 130 percent sales jump this year.

So the increase in pure EVs came largely from the S—which many consider the best car, electric or conventional, on the market—being produced in large numbers for the first time and huge price cuts for the Leaf, which had previously had poor sales. This doesn't sound like things are going gangbusters for pure EVs.


#18

But if you are counting non-gas-burning cars on the road and enjoying the increase, then the why isn't really the question unless there is a reason to think that the trend will reverse itself. If Nissan dropped the price on the Leaf and sales jumped then they probably aren't going to put it back up and lower their sales again. And if Tesla is selling cars as fast as they can make them then there is no reason to think their sales are going to drop soon. There's no reason to think sales will double again, but also no reason to think they will halve back to where they were.


#19

Again, I think there are two different issues at play with the Tesla and the Leaf, both of which suggest that widespread adoption and production of EVs is some distance away.

The issue with the Tesla is that it isn't just any old electric car: it's one of the very best cars in the world. It has cachet, confers status (for both pricing and availability reasons), incredible performance, real utility, and it's not hugely more expensive than a comparable car like a Porsche Panamera. It also enjoys tax credits in theory, but this is a marginal issue given the price of the car and the low likelihood that the owners will have an income low enough to actually use it. This is a difficult business model for anyone to emulate, and the pricing will necessarily limit the potential market. It's not until Model E that we might get the Tesla experience in a more affordable package that will have broad appeal.

The second issue, related to the Leaf, is that it sold like crap even though it had a tax credit that effectively chopped $7,500 from the price. Nissan had to chop another 18% from the price in order to get the sales they were hoping to get. So basically it seems like these cars should (in a subsidy-free world) be selling for more than $11,000 more than they are, and it's doubtful that Nissan sees much, if any, profit from the Leaf. So people are essentially paying only 2/3 of the actual cost of a Leaf, and it still doesn't sell a lot. That doesn't sound hugely promising to me, unless we expect the government to indefinitely subsidize electric cars through tax incentives.

I'm sure electric sales will continue to increase, but at the low end it will be motivated by car companies willing to eat losses in order to build market share, reputation, and expertise. And for all of them they're likely to appeal only to those purchasers who have another vehicle for long-distance transportation.


#20

But I think that's the only point that is being made. Electric sales will continue to increase. It may not be a dream world where we stop using fossil fuels tomorrow, but no one expected it to be.


#21

"More than doubled" is easy when you're talking about a tiny number to start with though. I agree that Tesla is finally giving consumers an option they have wanted for a long time (a battery powered car that isn't a warmed over golf cart) and are selling them like crazy, but they're still relatively miniscule.