Technology

Tesla May Release Patents To Encourage Supercharger Collaborators

June 10, 2014 | by Lisa Winter

Photo credit: Tesla Motors

If you don’t know Elon Musk, the first thing you need to know is that he’s kind of amazing. He started to make his fortune in the late 1990s after selling a software company he developed with his brother to Compaq. He also founded X.com, which merged with a company that owned PayPal, which Musk then helped bolster and sell in 2002 for $1.5 billion. In that same year, he co-founded SpaceX, a company that manufactures innovative space launch vehicles that could drastically reduce the cost of space exploration. Two years later, he co-developed Tesla Motors which manufactures technologically advanced electric cars. 

Though Tesla Motors isn’t the only electric car company out there, they are the only ones who have developed a unique model for charging stations. Tesla drivers pay slightly more up front in order to have access to Supercharger stations free of charge. When Tesla released the Model S in the UK on Sunday, he revealed that he is considering a “fairly controversial” move for other companies to bolster the electric car industry, even if it is at the expense of Tesla’s own patents. This move would open patents regarding the Supercharger system and the vehicles themselves in order to make this a reality.

Musk lamented at the fact that many automakers are doing the bare minimum in terms of developing environmentally-responsible vehicles, and that’s likely because they’re being forced into it with progressively heightened regulations. He expressed that he didn’t want Superchargers to become a “walled garden” that could only be used for Teslas, and this opportunity might encourage others to join in, since they would be taking on less risk as the technology has already been proven to work. Having a unified recharge system for electric vehicles could very well make a lot of sense, as traditional automobiles don’t have separate gas stations for GM, Ford, and Chrysler. 

There are currently 94 Supercharger stations across North America, 20 in Europe, and 3 in Asia, though they are hoping to grow that number considerably. Supercharger locations are typically given rent-free and some are powered by solar panels, which makes it easier to provide this service free of charge. Musk would require other companies to abide by this free for life policy if they were to use the technology. 

In 2013, Tesla Motors sold 22,500 vehicles and expects that number to grow to 35,000 this year. He attributes part of this success to the convenience of Supercharger stations as well as innovative batteries which allow for a longer range. The Tesla Model S has an MSRP from $69,900, though they hope to have a vehicle in the $35,000 range within the next few years.

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