Can competitors cash in on Tesla technology?

Can competitors cash in on Tesla technology?

Does Tesla holds patents that protects any of their solutions to EV?

I just read about a new EV company out of Detroit,
Detroit Electric. Even they will use the same base as Tesla did for the roadster - the British Lotus.

While newcomers are welcome in order to boost innovation and keep every player alert - what legal precautions have Tesla taken? I mean are the electric motor in itself anything special - or really just a brush-less motor made up of copper coils?
What about batteries and cooling?

Really I see competition as a good thing, but I hope there will be real competition not just glancing at others blueprints.

And what stops global manufacturers from embedding the same approach to their own existing models?

SD Supercharger | 05. April 2013

Elon encourages competition, with the endpoint goal of making EV's mainstream. That being said, TM holds or has applied for many patents. Probably the most important IP circulates around the battery management system

ak-tually55 | 05. April 2013

Actually, the company you are referring to has been around since 1907, but that I guess is besides the point.

ArieK | 05. April 2013

They are using a Lotus Exige shell as the basis for their car instead of the Elise which Tesla used.
There seem to be a few technical differences as well:

torst1 | 05. April 2013


I believe you are wrong here. Sure the company was founded in 1907 but that company vanished some 70 years ago. It was dissolved or whatever. So the founder of DE cars actually was just using the same name as it was available as far as I can see. But that was a digression.

What is far more interesting is how unique is the Tesla Technology?
If Elon shells out money for superchargers and more and more infrastructure for EV are build based on the progression of Tesla will it not be that much easier for other car manufacturers to swoop in and make quick killings?

After all who will stop cars from other vendors to charge at Tesla's superchargers?

Captain_Zap | 05. April 2013

I think that this belongs under the "General" forums.

Thinker | 05. April 2013

I believe access to the Tesla chargers are managed by software operated by Tesla. i imagine this will allow Tesla to approve who get to charge and who not. Remember, some Tesla 60 owners may have chosen not to pay for the supercharge acces, and I assume this is somehow managed with the software managing the charging process at the superchargers?

gasnomo | 05. April 2013

Its my understanding that BMW bought 3, tore 2 down, and is driving one of them...

negarholger | 05. April 2013

"After all who will stop cars from other vendors to charge at Tesla's superchargers?"
SC are not like your outlet at home... there is no power when not in use. It only powers up if the SC can talk to the battery.

PaceyWhitter | 05. April 2013

I doubt Tesla's electric motor's are that unique. The real secret is in the battery compartment. While the actual cells are well known their arangement and the battery conditioning systems are all unique.

While I assume the battery conditioning system is patented, I don't know if the battery arrangement can be. I remember one video where the batter compartment was blurred out, so it might just be a trade secret.

Seems someone could just buy one and figure out what the secert was if that was the case though.

Jolinar | 05. April 2013

I'm totally sure that other companies like VW and BMW already bought one or more Model S's and they are teared them down and studying battery and cells and management and everything around it.

However TM has more than one hundred, close to two, of patents so they will have to make their technology bit different and that is the think which drives the evolution forward.

Brian H | 05. April 2013

what's this "killings" stuff? Companies using TM's patented tech will have to do so under license. And it's the whole point of EV development.

The SC expenditures are cheap-o marketing, from the POV of TM's budget. $40 million a year to outfit 100+ stations. Solar City buys the power used and sells its array output at a profit. What, exactly, is the problem?

torst1 | 05. April 2013

In the norwegian newspapers there have been written that Tesla will build the much needed infrastructure aka super chargers to make life easier for Tesla customers. And also it has been written that there will be no fee for charging your Tesla in those superchargers. The power will be free. Not sure if this is the case in the US and other markets as well? My thought was just to get a better understanding as I am currently looking into buying TSLA stocks. I feel I needed more info on what makes Tesla unique before making Tesla also an investment and not just a great ride.

It is my understanding that in the US there will be a fee for charging in those superchargers, correct? And I tried to picture if competitors could take advantage of Tesla infrastructure rather then having to put down money not just on R&D to make an true EV in the league of Tesla but also on infrastructure. If competitors saves money on infrastructure and "barrow" Tesla technology maybe the path to have a production ready EV will be substantial shorter then what I first thinking.

Don't get me wrong I am for a competitive market - that is what drives innovation. But if I will put money on Tesla stocks I feel I should know a little more about how Tesla plans to stay ahead in the years to come.

robkal007 | 05. April 2013

Interesting discussion. Doing a Google Patent search gives a little idea of the range of protection Tesla has applied for and what has been received. It is a bit bigger than the battery. One I like a lot is what makes the Model S power train distinctly better than the Roadster: liquid cooled rotor. See the patent: US7,489,057B2 issued on Feb. 10, 2009.

Then again we think this wonderful car is so unique. For historical comparison take a look at US patent No. 382,279 issued on May 1, 1888. We drive the most recent perfection of a very old idea that will celebrate it's 125th anniversary the first of next month. The company is named after a very remarkable person.

Brian H | 05. April 2013

No, much of that is incorrect.

Tesla builds the superchargers, and a full station of about 6 units costs about $250,000, about the cost of one or two showings of a prime time TV ad. The units consist of 12 series-stacked chargers, the same as are in the cars. But then Solar City enters the picture (TM's sister company). It pays the utilities for all the electricity used by the cars, so it is free to MS owners. It sets up solar arrays, on the canopy, nearby, or wherever suitable, more capacity than the cars are ever likely to use. It sells this power back to the utilities under Feed-In Tariff contracts, and makes a profit, overall over the course of a year. This is a permanent arrangement, so neither Tesla nor the owners will ever pay for SuperCharger use. Anywhere in the world.

As for other companies, stop thinking of them as competitors. Tesla wants to force them to try and duplicate its efforts to make as much transportation electric as possible.

July10Models | 05. April 2013

Yes another company can use Tesla existing infrastructure to enter or deploy their own EV. However since the superchargers are Tesla license products, other manufacturers will have to pay Tesla for every car they sell that will use the facilities. it will be yet another avenue of revenue for Tesla down the road.

negarholger | 05. April 2013

Most industries are cross licensed. So I would not count on any revenue from license fees. But it could be handled like the 60kWh model through a one time fee or FastTrack like system that you have an account linked to a credit card.

negarholger | 05. April 2013

Brian - right on.
What Elon is doing taking one by one the excuses away to build or drive an electric car. An he is doing it in a systematic way, like a chess game.
1) EVs don't go very far - 200 m practical range is nough for 95% of driving
2) but I can't go to LA - super charges... And by the way its free (for MS)
3) can't build EVs for profit - make profit
4) battery replacement is expensive - lease it and you don't have to worry about that
...and we will see much more of that.

Brian H | 05. April 2013

True leasing will open a few doors. I guess WF isn't up to it.

Brian H | 05. April 2013

And TM is still on record as having leasing available by this summer. Buy-back guarantee isn't at all the same thing.

shop | 05. April 2013

Back to the original topic, Tesla has patents and proprietary technology on a lot of things including th motor. Tesla originally thought they could buy their motors, but no one made them or even could make them to Telsa's specs. So Tesla made a motor/inverter system that no one else has. Their motor is one reason why no other ev car out there has the acceleration of the tesla.