In a blog post titled “All our patent are belong to you”, a reference to a famous piece of poor translation from the Japanese game Zero Wing (below), Tesla CEO Elon Musk said:
"At Tesla ... we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: 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 one per cent of their total vehicle sales.”
According to Musk, Tesla's true competition aren’t the zero emissions vehicles being produced by other manufacturers - such as the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, BMW i3 and Renault Zoe - but rather vehicles with internal combustion engines.
Technologies unlocked by Tesla's announcement today include its lithium-ion battery pack designs and standards relating to its 135kW fast charging stations.
Justifying this bold move in Tesla's eyes is the moral imperative to address the "carbon crisis". Although Tesla sold an impressive 22,000 cars last year and is on track to deliver 35,000 vehicles to buyers in 2014, it is just a rounding error when calculating market share
As Musk noted in his Q&A session at Tesla's recent annual general meeting, there's an estimated two billion cars on the road today and car makers are churning out almost 100 million new vehicles annually. Even if at the snap of a finger all of the world's auto production shifted overnight to electric cars, it would take at least 20 years to replace the planet's fleet with zero-emission vehicles.
By effectively rendering the company's patent portfolio open source, Tesla is hoping to spur both established and upstart car makers alike into action.
Tesla recently announced the launch of its all-electric Model S sedan to the Australian market. Prices begin at $96,208 for the base model equipped with a 225kW motor and a 60kWh battery. At the range's zenith sits the $133,257 P85 variant with its 270kW engine and 85kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
The launch of the Model X all-wheel drive SUV (above) has been delayed until 2015, with the company wanting to get the distinctive Falcon wing doors right.