Dear Elon Please Do What You Think is Best for Humanity (don't worry about the patents)

Dear Elon Please Do What You Think is Best for Humanity (don't worry about the patents)


You've said from the very beginning, before you started taking public money that your primary mission was to "accelerate the advent of sustainable transport."

You also recently said that Toyota and others would like to buy packs and drive trains from Tesla, they are not yet making the investments necessary for that mission to be accomplished quickly.

If that dilemma can be resolved through creating a low cost patent licensing system or some other innovative way to increase the total marketplace for electric vehicles, then use your best business judgement. It has turned your three current businesses of sustainable energy production (Solar City), sustainable transportation (Tesla Motors) and interplanetary travel (SpaceX) into world changers and made you a billionaire.

There are good reasons NOT to share the technology you've developed, but there are even better ones you probably should.

But in the end, as you said at the recent shareholder's meeting, that Tesla Motors is likely to be "one of the most valuable companies in the world."

Roamer@AZ USA | 2014年6月5日

The best thing you can do is to be profitable. High profits attract competition and result in more choices for consumers. So make electric cars profitable and others will jump in.

Patents and innovation are not stopping EV development. If it is profitable to build EV's they will be built.

TeslaRocks | 2014年6月5日

And if some dinosaur car companies go out of business during this transition to EVs, I won't cry.

SamO | 2014年6月5日

You can turn your enemy into your ally and still be the biggest car company in the world in 15 years.

MarlonBrown | 2014年6月5日

I think it will be great when it becomes feasible to share any technology. But first there is long road of profitability and billions of cash reserves to be achieved. I don't see neither company there yet. Therefore before Elon can do some sharing, get the basics established first and make sure shareholders continue to invest in a solid and competitive business.

Red Sage ca us | 2014年6月5日


Being profitable alone won't do it. Tesla Motors has to get market share. They also have to make a distinct impact on competitor's market share. It must be made plainly obvious to them that the reason they are selling less new cars, is because people do NOT want their cars. Otherwise, they'll blame it on something else:
Government regulations.
Foreign competition.
High price of fuel.
Poor economy.
Bad credit.
Dog ate my homework.
Got struck by lightning.
Ran out of gas.
Had a flat tire.
There was an earthquake -- a flood!
It's not MY fault!
And they'll completely ignore that the reason people don't want their cars, is because people don't want their cars. Tesla must tear them down, to make them beg to be built back up. So has it been written, so shall it be done.

SamO | 2014年6月6日

Sounded like Toyota is already at the stage of begging TM to buy power trains and batteries, but Tesla said "Not now."

The problem isn't with competitors willing to drink from the stream, but with the water flow.

Competitors need to start building battery factories at the scale to produce 500,000 cars per year or it's just window dressing compliance.

Daimler is building a compromised, short range ,decent looking crapbox. City dwellers will be happy 90% of the time. See Leaf.

If GM and Ford go bankrupt due to failure to innovate, Tesla will win, but it will also be hated and the target of mischief. If they can grow to the the largest carmaker in the world AND anchor their competitors to their efficient patent licensing framework, even better.

Homebrook | 2014年6月6日

I wonder if Elon ever gets tired of people giving him counsel on how he should run his business or manage his money. I wonder how well these same people follow their own counsel. It is so easy to tell other people what to do. It is much more difficult to do it yourself. That is why I admire Elon and don't presume to instruct him on how to manage his affairs.

Red Sage ca us | 2014年6月6日

For the record: I'm not telling Elon Musk how to run Tesla Motors. I'm telling Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volkswagen how to run THEIR companies. I doubt they will listen though. ;-)

SamO | 2014年6月6日

+1 Homebrook

We're just kicking around HOW Elon will decide to do exactly what he wants. And how the "competition" and I use that word very loosely, adapts.

gdubcobra1 | 2014年6月6日

This is communist talk. How about giving me some of your income because you make more then me?

sthornton | 2014年6月6日

That is not the argument. The argument is letting you stay in one of my rooms on the hill when your home on the coast is under seawater.

Red Sage ca us | 2014年6月7日

What? Did no one here ever watch 'The BLUES BROTHERS'...? Sheesh!

Remnant | 2014年6月7日

To understand the cautious adoption of BEV manufacturing and operation, IMO, we should note that a rapidly expanding BEV market share would be enormously disruptive, killing lines of production, jobs, and occupational opportunities.

While some ICE uses, such as in stand-alone electric generators, will continue, their use in automobiles is now clearly hanging by a very thin thread and is unlikely ever to expand again.

Once light-weight, long-range, rapid-charge batteries become affordable, reasonable people will surely understand the disutility of making heavy, dirty, noisy, and complex power generators a part of the automobile itself. Phinergy, Storedot, Ryden and similar battery developments are clearly containing that promise for the very near future.

Homebrook | 2014年6月7日

sthornton, I think a more appropriate analogy is the man who spent his summer pooling his resources and devoting his time to diligently building his cabin on the hill, when his buddy spent the summer lazily sleeping in the meadow and swimming in the swimming hole in the valley. Now that winter is coming his buddy knocks on his door thinking he is owed a room. Now, the owner of the cabin on the hill may give him a room, but it is not owed. The room, if given, is given in pure grace (unmerited favor). There is an enormous distinction between forced charity (income redistribution), otherwise known as stealing, and voluntary charity.
Whether Elon decides to share his patents is entirely up to him. He does not owe humanity anything other than his best efforts in legally building a successful, profitable company, all the while being free to enjoy his profits as he sees fit.

Red Sage ca us | 2014年6月8日

Remnant wrote, "While some ICE uses, such as in stand-alone electric generators, will continue, their use in automobiles is now clearly hanging by a very thin thread and is unlikely ever to expand again."

Dude. I just got an image of a Tesla branded replacement for generators... Imagine a 15 LBS portable battery pack that you take to 'fill up' at a Supercharger en route to a camping destination that holds 40 kWh of electricity... You just plug it in at the cabin when you get there. Brilliant!

Red Sage ca us | 2014年6月8日

Homebrook: Interesting analogy. The phrase, "He's not heavy, he's my Brother.", comes to mind. We bear the burdens of our own choosing.

Roger Atkins | 2014年6月8日

Re-calibrating the internal combustion engine friction parts recurring revenue business model is as much the job as researching and designing the technology. The best way to take something away from someone is to give them something else. So, if you took away the parts and service business and replaced it with battery rentals, or an energy transaction that might present a compelling case for change. The absolute connection between renewable energy and EV's is where the game is being set up and the players are almost all on the field already...I think. In the meantime, just shouting at the established auto industry is both unproductive and illogical.

apsley | 2014年6月8日

It's a difficult question. On one hand, he has a fiduciary duty to the shareholders to look after their investment, so he really shouldn't be giving away patents. On the other hand, it is an open question whether traditional car companies will ever be able to make the transition to electric if left to their own devices. The Toyota RAV4EV is a good example of this. Toyota released the RAV4EV with 27kWh of battery capacity, which is less than half of what buyers have demonstrated they are willing to buy. They also did not address the problem of high speed charging on long distance trips. They could have, for example, pledged to install high speed chargers at all of their dealerships. But they didn't. They then convinced themselves that the poor sales meant that buyers "didn't want electric vehicles". If Toyota, which is arguably the best ICE car company in the world, cannot make a competent electric vehicle, can any of them?

Red Sage ca us | 2014年6月8日

Roger Atkins wrote, "Re-calibrating the internal combustion engine friction parts recurring revenue business model is as much the job as researching and designing the technology."

One telling point is that one of the first questions asked about any more modern vehicle is, "How are you gonna work on that yourself? Where are you gonna get parts?" It is almost as if people have been so conditioned to think of cars as something that must have parts periodically replaced, that they simply don't believe it is even remotely possible to build or design them to be reliable. This is the reality they have accepted, that they will be making monthly or quarterly trips to an auto parts store for the entire length of ownership, especially with a used car. They don't realize that this basically means a car is a rolling parts conveyor instead of an actual vehicle.

apsley: The most recent version of the Toyota RAV 4 EV actually was almost decent, at 41.8 kWh battery capacity. It would have been awesome with a 60 kWh battery pack though. I think that Toyota simply chickened out on it, for all the reasons stated here and elsewhere. A shame.

SamO | 2014年6月8日

Toyota could have made a production car, rather than a compliance car. Same with Mercedes. Instead, they didn't make it supercharger compatible thus relegating the vehicle to oddity status.

Brian H | 2014年6月8日

Toyota is already at the stage of begging TM to buy power trains and batteries

Say what?

SamO | 2014年6月9日

Elon announced at the shareholder's meeting that the Rav-4 would not continue but that Toyota wanted to buy batteries and power trains at volume, but that Tesla would be scavenging their MS/MX business until they built the Gigafactory(ies)

Brian H | 2014年6月11日

Word order confusion. Sounded like Toyota was trying to sell power trains to TM!

SamO | 2014年6月12日

Thank you Elon for making the world better!

drax7 | 2014年6月12日

Elon forget running a business, instead focus on getting a noble peace prize.

SamO | 2014年6月12日

Elon not forget. Elon remember.

Patents, he said, shouldn’t be so important. “You want to be innovating so fast you invalidate your prior patents.”

Building your business around innovation rather than patents is a surefire recipe for success when it is IMPOSSIBLE to capture 100M car sales per year.

Getting other entrants involved in buying commodity 18650 batteries will drive down prices for EVERYONE.

Plus it's the Nobel Prize.

Curt Renz | 2014年6月12日

One of the motives for making today's patent announcement may have been to inspire Panasonic to more quickly, unambiguously and aggressively partner with Tesla in the Gigafactory ventures.

EvaP | 2014年6月12日

This is what I was afraid of as a shareholder. Elon wants to change the world and has no competitive bone in him. That is not a good thing as far as profit is concerned. It is like a soccer player who lets the other team score because he wants to see as many scores as possible regardless of who is scoring.

I think I am going to take my money out of Tesla. Sorry, but I am not rich enough to sacrifice my nest egg for the future of mankind.

The patents and the technology were the biggest assets of Tesla.

Curt Renz | 2014年6月12日


Trust Elon to have looked very deeply into this matter as both good for mankind and spectacularly advantageous for shareholders like himself.

I suspect this is ultimately about the battery Gigafactories. One of the motives for making today's patent announcement may have been to inspire Panasonic to more quickly, unambiguously and aggressively partner with Tesla Motors in the Gigafactory ventures.

This may force other carmakers to adopt the Tesla/Panasonic small cell battery technology as the standard. Perhaps of even greater importance the Gigafactories will also supply solar storage capabilities for homes and businesses.

Tesla may not only eventually become the world's dominant automaker, but even more profitably the top energy supplier for a wide variety of purposes.

Elon Musk, I salute your for your genius and creativity that benefits not only your shareholders and car owners, but all of mankind.

SamO | 2014年6月12日

+1 Curt

I'm now even more convinced that Tesla will be able to capture a significant portion of the automobile sector than before.

I was worried that if automakers got too far behind, they would implode. Tesla doesn't want 100% of a very small market. They want 25% of the entire market for cars. Providing "some" partners with skateboard IP will ensure that they are never sued by DOJ for anti-competitive practices.

They can save $$$ defending IP which they just want to USE to make great cars. They've already lapped the competition.

Perhaps automakers can spin off parts like GM did with Saturn and compete at mid-level shopping malls. No dealers. Just electric.

For FORD to replicate Tesla, they'd need to spend less than 10% of their 2013 Media budget.

500 Superchargers = $100,000,000
100 Service Centers = $250,000,000
100 Showrooms = $50,000,000

They'd just have to make a compelling product. Not sure that Elon can "fix" that problem.

MarlonBrown | 2014年6月12日

EvanP I agree with you.
I sincerely hope Elon has been releasing patent info giving priority to make first the business successful. If so, he should have made that clear. I am fine if he has humanitarian intentions and that is a great thing, but if he wants to make a contribution, first the business needs to be successful against fierce competitors in a market which requires heavy capital, which Tesla does not have. But its competitors does.

All people saying here about "right for humanity" are either hypocrites or dreamers who have no idea about how business and competition works. Fail the business and you have no new electric vehicle development.

I will keep an eye and I will no longer buy Tesla shares. Risky move.

MarlonBrown | 2014年6月12日

SamO, you must be kidding when saying competitors could be far behind to the point of failure.

We are years ahead of Tesla mass producing cars to a point other makers get hurt. What Tesla must secure and worry now is capital.

I believe giving away technology to deep pocket losers is risky. GM, Ford and all other losers can as till release a gen III car ahead of Tesla and hurt it. Why take the risk?

SamO | 2014年6月12日


Quick quiz. What's the fastest a car has gone from design to production by any mainstream auto company? 3 years? 5?

Where are these competitors going to get the batteries? It's going to take Tesla 2-4 years just to build the biggest battery factory in the world. And that will only be able to produce 500,000 packs/year. Less than 1/2 of 1% of the 100M cars produced worldwide.

Double Tesla's production each year for 6 years nets them 1.3% of the world car market.

2013 20K
2014 40K
2015 80K
2016 160K
2017 320K
2018 640K
2019 1280K (roughly 1% of market)

gdubcobra1 | 2014年6月12日

Tesla doesn't have the battery factory. Making assumation of it's production amount is useless. The Big Three could built their own battery plant, power train, and cars which could leave Tesla with nothing. Then they could easly go back to ICE. Assuming the competition gives a damn about the CO2 or any environmental issues is laughable.

MarlonBrown | 2014年6月12日

SamO, money talks. I do have experience building manufacturing facilities for engine production. The losers have billions in capital and now with the idea of key patent information handed over to them yes they could down the road next year spend few billion and launch a competitor product to Tesla. I believe Tesla existing and medium term situation is somewhat fragile. This is not a software open source line of business in which you need relatively low capital. Buying time to win against the competition and build cash should be priority for Tesla to survive and thrive. Please dont come with this foolish argunent of helping humanity by giving away business secrets. I met so many hypocrites who dream big but have been a failure in life, ended up helping no one. Just talk big but no actual results. Tesla relies on the stock market valuation at this point, very little actual cash.

SamO | 2014年6月12日


Nothing you wrote has anything to do with my question: how long?

You've built production facilities . . . how long from plan to production?

gdubcobra1 | 2014年6月12日

@Samo your timelime of 5-7 yrs is a assumation. Are you saying that after that time Tesla is finished?

SamO | 2014年6月12日

No. I'm saying WE as a species may be finished if Tesla is advancing sustainable transport on their own AND that Tesla won't be able to capture more of that market if they have patents or not.

tuter2toot | 2014年6月12日

I don't know anything about profits and competition. All I know is that there are many of us out here who desperately want to ditch the gas guzzlers and drive clean. I love the look of these beautiful vehicles, I simply cannot afford $64K to own one. People in my tax bracket are forced to pollute. Maybe by opening the patents there will be someone out there to cater to our needs. Many blessings~ The future is bright.

drax7 | 2014年6月12日

Tesla is amazing and so is Elon.
However the business is far from being secure and self sustaining.
At least from my vantage point as an outsider.

Tesla needs all the competitive advantages imaginable to survive.
If what you are giving away is worthless,,,and does not diminish
Your chances of survival , by all means be generous.

If the firm does not survive, it can no longer benefit society.

risingsun | 2014年6月12日

I feel like I am watching a real life movie when I am following Tesla.

risingsun | 2014年6月12日

So if Falcon wings doors are a big hit are other automakers just going to copy them in a year or two?

Brian H | 2014年6月13日

EM's POV is that the market for EVs is the complete replacement of the world's ICE stock. Lots there for everyone.

His challenge is getting the other makers to play, which they are only playing at doing so far. If you want to play, you have to be serious!

DaphneGreen | 2014年6月13日

Elon to give away patents:
Might be brilliant. If there are more EVs out there, they'll need more infrastructure and it wont only being Tesla building it out. Who knows, maybe it's going to be the gigafactory(s)that is the big money maker. People that have bet against Elon have always come out on the short end.

MarlonBrown | 2014年6月13日

SamO, that is right at the very least 3 years, likely 5 to get a new platform implemented. As the other poster said, so what is your point, competition comes and Tesla is good only for few years then.

Write this down: Big mistake by Elon. Probably his mistake here is that he is thinking like a software executive. Even worse if he is making this decision primarily based on the rethoric of helping humanity.

If Elon and the gentleman who initiated this post really want to help humanity, see what Bill Gates did. He established his business, made billions then he gave away to the community as he wished.

Tesla is the company I most admire. I don't care if Apple computers look pretty and have long battery. Cars yes.

MarlonBrown | 2014年6月13日

Tuter2toot, if you can't afford a $64k for a car, that is why we need Tesla healthy and succesful. You might think it is easy to see other competitors doing a good job, but the Leaf is out there and probably you don't want it.

SamO | 2014年6月13日


In five years, with doubling Tesla will be selling 1M cars.

Other automakers will producing their first 10K

I'd guess at least one automaker will use Tesla's sales model combined with Saturn and sell in shopping malls.

Tesla ensures their continued existence and gives several other automakers reasons to be glad Elon is alive.

Red Sage ca us | 2014年6月13日

Marlon: Perhaps you didn't hear the Q & A with Elon Musk following the announcement? Quite a few of your inquiries are handled in full, if you'll give it a listen.

The bottom line is that Elon Musk realized that traditional auto makers have no intent whatsoever to compete in the field of Electric Vehicles. He now knows that he doesn't have to worry about them using their money, or manufacturing power, or engineering skills to circle the wagons and rally against Tesla Motors to steal the EV market from under him. They simply aren't going to do it. Ever.

I compare it to the beginning of the automotive industry. It was several decades before the Ford Model T came along. And nearly a decade after that, mounted cavalry were still the norm in the armed forces worldwide. In all those years, did someone in the livery stable, horse training, or hay supply businesses rally together, with all their resources, to stop the 'impending threat of horseless carriages'? No. They didn't. Because they lacked vision, they lacked know-how, and they lacked the willingness to act.

Red Sage ca us | 2014年6月13日

drax7 wrote, "Tesla needs all the competitive advantages imaginable to survive."

And one of the primary competitive advantages that Tesla Motors needs is a healthy competitive landscape. Elon Musk made the singular mistake of believing that by making an honest demonstration of how an electric car could be better he could convince the rest of the automotive industry to follow suit. He thought that if the major companies were to use their manufacturing prowess to invest heavily in the production of electric vehicles it could potentially drive down the cost of components, such as batteries, so that Tesla could also offer low cost EVs to the masses.

That was not to be. There is far too much inertia within the old companies. They don't so much build cars, as they do conveyances for future spare parts.

They build the cars with the specific intent that they will eventually fall apart and need replacement bits and pieces to keep going. Spark plugs, gaskets, hoses, filters, pumps, belts... All the things that consumers have been conditioned to believe must be replaced as a matter of course. And the full potential cost of all those items is wrapped up in the bottom line from the moment the ICE vehicles are first green lighted for production.

At best, they build cars that will be the best in the world for all of three years, just long enough for warranties to run out and people to go buy the next model. At worst, they build absolute friggin' lemons that are completely unreliable and have safety concerns that they never own up to without the impending threat of litigation. Either way, all the care about is the bottom line.

Operating under that mindset means that in order to go with electric cars, which don't need any of that laundry list of regular replacement parts, and still make the same amount of profit over a 3-10 or 5-15 year lifespan, the car would basically have to cost about a third of the manufacturing cost for them to sell it at the very same dealer inflated sticker price. That is the money they are 'losing' on electric car sales. All of the future service and replacement parts business.

So Tesla Motors is fostering the development of a whole new industry, based entirely upon building Electric Vehicles. It will first co-opt, then run parallel to, and finally supplant the existing automotive industry. Since none of the big boys are willing to do it, this will allow a multitude of small companies to develop their own means of delivering electric cars. So if 10, 15, 20 companies each manage to get 1.5% of the worldwide transportation market by offering EVs, it will eventually be enough to make a real difference.

People forget that there used to literally be hundreds of different automobile manufacturers. It isn't too much to ask that there might be a couple dozen or so EV manufacturers out there that could grow to match Tesla's output some day. I certainly hope so.

Red Sage ca us | 2014年6月13日

Marlon commented, "...that is right at the very least 3 years, likely 5 to get a new platform implemented. As the other poster said, so what is your point, competition comes and Tesla is good only for few years then."

No. You don't understand. It's already been nearly two decades since General Motors made the EV1. The Tesla Roadster was shown seven years ago. But the cars that have come to light, after three to five years of development, that are supposed to be competitors to the Tesla Model S, are the Cadillac ELR and BMW i8.

Those are cars that are each soundly trounced by the Tesla Roadster, which came out years ago, after only three years of development. Given more than twice the amount of time, these much larger companies can't match it. This is literally the best they can do. There is no way in hell they are going to match Tesla by 2020 on their own. Ain't gonna happen.

It is sorely apparent that another tack must be taken. Another course must be laid. Another strategy must be used to reach the goal of eliminating hydrocarbon burning vehicles from the transportation landscape.

I say again... If the only goal for Tesla Motors was to just 'make money'... they can do that already. All they have to do is release a larger platform in the limousine class, call it a Tesla Model L, throw 220 kWh worth of batteries in it, and clean Rolls-Royce and Bentley's clock for them. That would make them a highly profitable, but niche company, who made cars that were 'only for the rich'.

They would be no threat to anyone anywhere. Their market cap would be around $700,000 and their share price would hover around fifteen bucks, and none of us would be here. Would that make you happy?