Tesla Motors, Inc. – Foolhardy Philanthropists or Inspirational Innovators?

In the spirit of moving not just their company forward, but the world as we know it, Tesla Motors, Inc., creators of some of the most advanced electric automobiles, decided to share their EV technology with… everybody!  What’s more, they’ve been in talks with BMW and other carmakers to share charging stations in Europe and the US.

From CEO Elon Musk’s blog: Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

To say it’s a bold move would be an understatement. But Musk believes that barricading oneself behind a wall of patents and tech-wars with their competitors not only invites litigation but impedes the very ethos they are trying to fuel.

I personally am holding out for an affordable electric motorcycle, but that’s beside the point. What is exciting and noteworthy here is the bid for a better planet by some amazing people who want to see electric vehicles replace our carbon-puffing machines – and to see it happen in our lifetime. And I say, let’s do it!

Now if we can only get those solar roadways laid. The sooner the better.

It’s remarkable not only to see Tesla Motors push to create their own vehicles, but to encourage and inspire others to do the same. The open-source trend is all about sharing inspiration as much as information.  Even as I write this, two ideas have come to mind.

Create a service company that focuses on conversions – specialize in converting gas-powered cars into electric vehicles. This is dependent, of course, on the technology to implement electric engines into car chassis that were designed for internal combustion engines. But as electric engines develop, it may become an affordable enterprise for the common consumer. This may also be a transitional business model for old-hat manufacturers to move toward complete EV production. Converting cars to clean-diesel has been in practice for several years now, why not explore electric conversion?

Another idea: when the propane tank under my BBQ grill runs out, I take it to 7/11 and swap it out for a full one for $18 or so. Could we universalize, however possible, the electric car battery so they can be swapped out instead of recharged? Gas stations would become charging and/or swapping stations so people who need to keep going can do just that. This might not even be necessary as newer battery technology speeds up recharge time, but for those conversion models I proposed in the previous paragraph, it may be a helpful short-term solution.

On the other side of the issue, there’s the question of whether the necessary changes in our infrastructure can keep up with the technology. Can we generate enough electricity available to keep up with the potential mass production of electric vehicles? At what cost? And what about battery production – how with that effect the environment in the long term?  The city buses in my town and even heavy duty construction vehicles run on natural gas – not a zero-emission solution, but much cleaner than petroleum-based fuel. Withdrawing our dependency on oil-producing nations is also attractive, but it would be naïve to think we could do that overnight and without major disruption to international economies.

In any case, a hearty bravo to Musk and Tesla Motors, Inc., for their efforts. I’m excited to see what comes of this.

16 Responses to Tesla Motors, Inc. – Foolhardy Philanthropists or Inspirational Innovators?

  1. jason June 14, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    To generate electricity check out Soon Musks other company Solar City

  2. James June 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Interestingly, for your second idea of a quick battery swap, Tesla’s thought of that one too!

    http://www.teslamotors.com/batteryswap

  3. Livin' Miata Loca June 14, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    I know this would be considered blasphemy by some, but I would consider converting my Miata.

    • Mirethil June 15, 2014 at 5:25 am #

      I know what you mean – I love my NA (90), but with how nimble and light our cars are, I think they’d be extremely fun if converted to electric. Just think of that power and instant torque!

    • George Boomer III June 16, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

      Search for Miata EV conversions. They’re, somewhat unsurprisingly, one of the more popular choices for the DIY electric conversion community. $13K~$25K or so last I checked, depending on range and performance desired.

      Here’s a little story on the best EV conversion I’ve seen, and it was done 8 years ago! goo.gl/3x0taS

  4. Brian June 14, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    Congress doesn’t want mass production of electric vehicles. Because half of them are bought by the oil industry and does not make them money…the very opposite in fact.

  5. Nunya June 14, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    Yeah I’m sorry but what damage does a combustion engine do to the environment? Global warming is a lie in order for the government to do things like carbon taxes and now that electric vehicles are becoming more and more prominent, suddenly numerous power plants are being shut down due to carbon emissions. Which again hasn’t been scientifically proven to harm the ozone as al gore claims. They are only shutting down plants to raise the cost of electricity as it becomes more valuable than oil.
    Don’t get me wrong I love the tesla and the electric engines are phenomenal but it’s all being done for the wrong reasons

  6. David June 15, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for car manufacturers to make a good looking EV like Tesla. Imagine the current crop of muscle cars being sold with an EV version… Same chassis, same interior, just electric. I’d sign up for an electric challenger in a heartbeat.

  7. Allen Tran (@Allen750) June 15, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Gawd bless citizen journalism.

  8. twelveplusplus June 15, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    We need more research and development into Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. That topology is ideal for many applications including heavy inductive loads such as a car motor would present. It’s essentially non-toxic to the environment.

  9. Bill June 16, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    Your battery swap idea… Robert A. Heinlein proposed that in the 40s and 50s in his Future History stories… He called them Shipstones… Amazing how Science Fiction becomes Science Fact as time goes on…

    • jason June 16, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      I don’t buy into the global warming issue either, my interest is in the fact oil wells will run dry. There is not an endless supply in the ground. There is an endless supply of solar energy. Well at least until our sun dies.

      We have the technology to go solar at home, charge our cars, and drive without dependency on oil as the power source. Yes its expensive, but investing in that technology now, refining it, making it better will only serve us in the long run.

      As far as the government goes, they are ruining everything good about this country. History tells me this nations government on its current path won’t survive another 100 years, and I’m being generous lol

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