Two key problems restraining sales of electric vehicles—other than price—are a lack of charging stations and lack of industry standards for technology. In a display of potential collaboration, however, that may be about to change.
Indeed, electric car-makers Nissan and BMW are keen to collaborate with Tesla Motors after the U.S. company agreed to share its patents with competitors, the Financial Times reported. Nissan, the world’s largest electric-car manufacturer, along with BMW and Tesla, together account for about 80 percent of the world’s battery-run electric car sales, the newspaper said.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO wrote in a recent blog post that there had been a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of its Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology, he continued.
“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal,” Musk wrote. “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”
The reason for the change in thinking is that given annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it’s impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis, Musk believes. At the same time, however, it does mean the market is enormous. The true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline-powered cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day, Musk says.
That all apparently comes as good news to other companies which welcome the opportunity to collaborate. As The Financial Times recently reported, both Nissan and BMW are willing to have talks with Tesla to discuss the opportunity to develop charging stations with joint efforts, which then could be used by the vehicles manufactured by all the three giants. An undisclosed source told FT that “It is obviously clear that everyone would benefit if there was a far more simple way for everyone to charge their cars.”
It also seems there is more than simply interest. Executives from BMW and Tesla met this week in a move which could lead to the creation of charging stations usable for different types of electric cars, an article in the Chicago Tribune reports. The companies seek ways to raise the popularity of battery-powered vehicles, which consumers have shunned due to their limited operating range, the scarcity of charging stations and the time it takes to recharge them, the article notes.
“Both companies are strongly committed to the success of electro-mobility and discussed how to further strengthen the development of electro-mobility on an international level,” a BMW spokesman said in a statement, according to the article.
In some respects, it’s surprising these types of talks haven’t happened yet. By working together, the companies can simultaneously address both consumer perception and a lack of a common charging station, which is a key challenge. Those efforts could go a long way toward changing people’s minds about the viability of electric vehicles.
What do you think? Is this type of collaboration a win-win?