Tesla Motors’ CEO, Elon Musk, spoke at the UK launch of the Model S about his plans to boost adoption rates of electric-powered vehicles. Specifically, he hinted that he is willing to share his cars’ Supercharging system with rival electric auto makers. Doing so might also entail giving other auto makers access to some of Tesla’s technology patents and secrets. Musk, however, seems prepared to go to any lengths to ensure electric cars enjoy increased mass adoption.
Musk’s willingness to share his company’s IP is a sure sign of his commitment to making the alternative fuel strategy succeed. Tesla’s Supercharging system alleviates one of electric vehicles’ biggest impediments to greater mass acceptance, and that is very time-consuming recharging times. Tesla Superchargers promise to provide a half-charge in as little as 20 minutes; not only that, but the company also includes free access to any Supercharger station to Tesla owners, which essentially means the cars are given “free” energy forever. Finally, Superchargers are propping up all over the place, with the company projecting coverage up to 80% of the US population and parts of Canada by the end of 2014, with an increase to 98% coverage by the end of 2015. Europe and Asia, meanwhile, should also see an increase in coverage if the company’s plans succeed.
Tesla does say that other EV manufacturers must share in the maintenance of Supercharger stations, although it does say that such costs are not as big as one may fear. For one thing, most of the locations for the Superchargers are given to Tesla rent-free; also defraying costs is the fact that many locations are powered by solar panels.
Clearly, Elon Musk sees collaboration amongst EV manufacturers as a key to the enterprise’s long-term success. If electric vehicles still fail as a viable replacement for petrol-powered vehicles, no one can say Tesla didn’t try all it could to prevent that failure.