Tesla Opening Supercharger Standards to Rivals
Last week, Tesla CEO (and crazed billionaire) Elon Musk started offering up cryptic messages that he might do something “controversial” with his company’s patents. Speculation centered around him releasing or licensing his electric car patents to other automakers in an effort to expand the production and adoption of cars that don’t rely on fossil fuels. Instead, Musk said on Sunday at the UK launch of the Tesla Model S that he’d be releasing the designs for the company’s Superchargers in an effort to expand the network of charging stations throughout the world.
According to a post on Engadget, Musk said that he’s thinking about opening up Tesla’s Supercharger system “in order to create a standard technical specification that other electric car makers can adopt.” That might still entail the company releasing proprietary information about what makes a Tesla motor run, but it seems as though Musk is willing to give up that kind of information for the greater good of the company’s future. The post also explains that Supercharger stations give away free electricity to Tesla owners for life, a service that’s bundled into the up-front purchase of the vehicle, and which is often backed by solar panels.
The plan makes sense for Tesla’s future. If more automakers decide to jump into the Supercharger system, more stations will be dotted throughout each nation that features cars built to utilize them. Then the range of each car will go ever higher – the further a driver can go and reliably find a charging station, the greater the utility of the car. The only reason our current crop of cars work at all is because of the network of fueling stations all over the world. Why not Supercharging stations as well?
The real question, of course, is whether or not Tesla’s car-making rivals want to take him up on the offer. After all, if automakers provide free fuel, where does that leave their business partners, the gasoline companies? Long-entrenched industries sure are reluctant to lose money, or find themselves obsolete, no matter how finite a resource oil might be. Expect lots of resistance from the big business interests that have fueled our cars for the last century or so.
That said, let’s hope that automakers can see the forest for the trees and decide to move ahead with greening up our roadways.
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