Characteristic for a firm in the Valley, Tesla open sourced its technology, allowing other car makers to use its patents free of charge. After getting over the initial shock, many of the big car companies have apparently been taking up the offer, according to CEO Elon Musk.
Big players in the auto industry seemed to have been cold to long range electric vehicles. Toyota, for example, has been pushing for hydrogen powered cars and Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been publicly disparaging electric vehicles, including Fiat’s own 500e electric car.
While most of the major players already have their own electric cars, most are limited in range to 100 miles (160 km) or less. This renders them impractical for many consumers, hence sales are disappointing, to say the least. Tesla’s Model S, on the other hand, has a 265 mile (424 kilometer) range per charge. In addition to this, they’ve put up a network of Superchargers across the U.S. to encourage interstate travel of the iconic EV. The Silicon Valley based auto maker has 200 EV-related patents to its name.
Nissan and BMW were said to be among the first to approach Tesla. BMW has an i3 city car. Another player, General Motors, is planning to make a Chevy Volt with a farther range. It looks like that some of the big car makers are seeing a future in electric vehicles, a development that Musk welcomes. He said, “I’m glad they are getting serious about electric cars — and they should.”
Marchionne has gone as far as admitting that the car industry has taken Musk and company’s accomplishments “incredibly lightly” and that “I think he (Musk) deserves more attention that we have given him.”
On freeing up the company’s patents to the competition, Musk says that he is counting on his engineers to keep innovating and to outdo the company’s current patents. This may also be his way of attracting talent, which is the Valley’s way of keeping ahead of the pack.