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Published on June 11th, 2014 | by Important Media Cross-Post

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Tesla Will Open Its Supercharger Patents To Promote EVs

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June 11th, 2014 by  

Editor’s Note: The wait to find out the “controversial” thing Tesla was planning to do with its patents wasn’t too long, thanks to an apparent leak to Engadget. There’s one big catch. No surprise, it’s a benefit for consumers… or an apparent benefit at least (if manufacturers decide to simply roll the costs into the costs of their EVs), and otherwise simply a mandated advertising approach that I think will help EV adoption. Read on…

Tesla Will Open Its Supercharger Patents To Promote EVs

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We reported just last week that Elon Musk might be planning a controversial new strategy for some of the patents his company, Tesla Motors. This weekend at a press conference introducing the Tesla Model S to the UK, Tesla raised the curtain on its bold new vision .

Engadget reports that Tesla will release the patents it holds on its proprietary SuperCharger technology in order to promote standardized charger designs for EV’s. CEO Musk has made it clear in the past that he wants to avoid a “walled garden” approach in which every EV manufacturer would have unique charging facilities for its model.

What does that mean for the rest of the electric vehicle world? Just that Tesla’s recharging protocols will now be open source, with other companies free to use and improve upon them. Ultimately, the thinking at Tesla is that standardized recharging  systems will drive acceptance of electric vehicles forward and help put more EV’s on the road sooner. The Tesla Superchargers are far and away the fastest way to charge an EV, able to deliver a full charge of 265 miles of driving to a 85 kWh Model S in about an hour. Nobody else even comes close, and as it stands there remains debate within the automotive world over which charging standard to adopt; the Japanese-preferred CHAdeMO, or the American-developed SAE Combo charger.

But there’s a catch. The Tesla business model calls for free recharging for customers as long as they own their car. Tesla wants any manufacturer that uses its patents to agree to the same business model of free charging. They will also be expected to contribute to the cost of the SuperCharger network in exchange for access to the Tesla technology secrets.

Will other manufacturers agree to Musk’s terms? That remains to be seen. Few, if any companies are making a profit on their electric cars yet, and certainly not on the charging infrastructure. They may not want to saddle themselves with paying for the cost of electricity and a portion of the operating costs for the SuperCharger system while losing money on every electric car sold.

Musk has thrown down the gauntlet. Will any other companies pick it up?

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  • Luis Reyes

    I like it! Many patents are only there to stop progress. So, good idea from Mr. Musk!

    I drive the Nissan Leaf and LOVE LOVE LOVE the car! And stop saying it’s expensive!!! It is NOT EXPENSIVE when you consider the very low maintenance and very low cost of energy to drive it. I live in AZ and it cost me between $15 to $30 a month in energy cost to drive! And $24/month to insure (at Insurance Panda)! I drive about 10,000 miles/year. We need a new generation of people who are open minded to change to embrace the electric car! People … we need to get off oil for soooo many reasons. Environment, Middle East and believe it or not …. Electric cars drive much better! We need to move forward!

  • Jouni Valkonen

    I think that this means that Tesla allow other companies to produce Tesla compatible chargers. E.g. ABB produces combo chargers that has outlets for both Chademo and CCS cargers. It would of course be a nobrainer that ABB puts yet another outlet for Tesla compatible fast charger.

    Actually I think that the motivation here is that when Musk and Straubel were in Amsterdam in late winter, they were asked on behalf of Dutch charging company that they would like to offer Tesla supercharger compatible fast chargers. And he asked if Tesla is in plans to open up the charger protocols.

    And here it seems to be the answer! That indeed Tesla will offer these protocols for third parties.

    About a year ago I predicted that there will be three global standards for EV fast chargers: Chademo, CCS and Tesla Superchargers. And possible local standard in China. I guess that this is also what Tesla is pursuing.

    • Jouni Valkonen

      So, how utterly wrong I was! :-)

  • Offgridmanpolktn

    This is kind of a mix up of the facts, see yesterdays Teslamundo for an explanation. Engadget has already issued a retraction.

  • dango-man

    Seems to me Tesla is just trying to increase it’s market share by increasing the amount of chargers just like all the other manufactures! So tesla isn’t really being the good guy here.
    It is governments or institutions in unions such as the EU which will decide the standards that are going to be used. As manufactures including Tesla couldn’t agree beforehand on what FAST DC charger standards to use before they produced their cars. In the end those who currently have an electric car are going to be hurt as they are likely going to have to buy an adapter

    • SunnyGuy53

      Wow. So if Tesla doesn’t release their patents, they’re being selfish; whereas if they do release their patents, they’re being … selfish. Nice Catch-22 you’ve got there.

      • dango-man

        I’m saying its not worth praise which has been suggested, I didn’t say it’s selfish. You’re such a… selfish guy!

        I’m just pointing out the reality that patents are not the barrier, it’s either agreements between manufactures or a governments choosing a particular DC charger standard that will be enforced on the industry.
        Also as far as I know the patents that Tesla hold are not crucial for developing a charging station.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I see it as Tesla (potentially) saying that it’s in the best interest of all EV manufacturers to bring very fast high capacity chargers on line quickly.

      The faster superchargers are in place, the faster EV market share will grow and that will benefit all EV manufacturers. It’s ICEVs that are going to lose market share. EV market shares will be split based on cost/quality/features of the various EVs.

      Adding multiple sets of superchargers (same function, different plug) will just increase cost and slow things down for all EV manufacturers. It would be like requiring Ford gas stations, BMW gas stations, Toyota gas stations, etc. Stupid roadblock.

      • dango-man

        Potentially, it’s just I believe Tesla should of positioned its Supercharger for adoption by regulatory body and not the manufactures. As the manufactures haven’t agreed to a standard for fast chargers in the past why will they now?

        This just reminds me of mobile phones and other electronic goods each having different chargers until the EU got on to their backs in 2009 to adopt a universal charger. Which many now have adopted and is about to become law to force the few remaining who haven’t.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I doubt chargers are going to get form-regulated in the US. Europe may be different.

  • Bob_Wallace

    “They may not want to saddle themselves with paying for the cost of electricity and a portion of the operating costs for the SuperCharger system while losing money on every electric car sold.”

    Companies lose money on new models. It doesn’t matter what is under the hood.

    Each time you sell an EV install some solar panels (purchase a piece of a solar farm). It costs a surprisingly little in solar panels to provide rapid charging 10% of the time to drivers.

    Besides, if FCEV manufacturers are going to give away free H2 in order to create a market EV manufacturers are going to have to respond. And luckily for them the cost will be very significantly less. (Less that half the cost per mile and only a small portion of miles driven for most EVs.)

  • tibi stibi

    smart move!

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