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Tesla releases electric car patents to encourage more manufacturers to go green

Tom Morgan
13 Jun 2014
Tesla Model S
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Elon Musk has released Tesla's electric car patents to encourage the motoring industry to speed up adoption of greener electric vehicles

Tesla Motors has made its collection of electric vehicle patents available for use by other vehicle manufacturers, in the hope that it will encourage the motoring industry to speed up adoption of greener electric cars and reduce the impact of vehicular emissions on the environment.

In a blog post titled All our patent are belong to you, Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained that by patenting the technology used in its cars, the company was effectively preventing the rest of the industry from making progress with electric vehicles.

"Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport," Musk said. "If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property land mines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal."

Musk hopes that by freeing up his company's patents for other manufacturers, it will not only speed up the adoption of electric vehicles but encourage talented engineers to come forward and strengthen Tesla's position as a technology leader within the EV market.

According to Musk, "electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales." By letting these companies use Tesla patents, it could spur on more manufacturers to increase their focus on electric cars and in the process help reduce carbon emissions by producing fewer petrol motors.

Crucially, Tesla still holds onto its patents; the company simply "will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use [the] technology". Quite what constitutes "good faith" remains to be seen, but given Tesla's significant lead in terms of performance over competing electric cars, it could be some time before Musk needs to look over his shoulder for the competition.

Tesla was the first company to produce a commercially available, fully electric sports car with the Tesla Roadster, and is now on the verge of launching the Model S sedan in the UK after a successful rollout in the USA. Its battery technology is uniquely based on lots of smaller lithium-ion cells, rather than the single-purpose larger cells found in other electric vehicles, which has allowed the Model S to reach distances of up to 265 miles on a single charge, making it the longest lasting electric vehicle currently on the market.

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