CEO Elon Musk says that Tesla is currently open to licensing software and supply powertrains and batteries to other automakers struggling to make electric cars.
Recently, we reported on automakers admitting that Tesla has a lead on several key areas of developing and building electric vehicles.
Volkswagen has been quite open about the fact that it has fallen behind when it comes to software and that Tesla has taken the lead.
Hebert Diess, Chairman of Volkswagen, even said that the company is implementing what he internally called the “Tesla catch-up plan” in order to close the software gap between the German automaker and Tesla.
Now Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that they are willing to help.
In response to those recent comments, Musk wrote on Twitter:
“Tesla is open to licensing software and supplying powertrains and batteries. We’re just trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors!”
The CEO even said that Tesla would be willing to license Autopilot – though he had said in the past that it would be difficult to implement.
There’s a limit though. Tesla is not going to share its in-car fart machine technology:
Tesla used to supply powertrains and batteries to Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, who both used to be Tesla shareholders, but they stopped back in 2015 after ending all their programs.
Back in 2014, Musk announced that Tesla is “open-sourcing” its patents to help other automakers accelerate electric vehicle development.
However, the move has been criticized for not being “open-sourcing” in the true sense of the word since Tesla only “pledged” not to sue any company using its patented technology “in good faith”.
The difference resulted in not many companies actually using Tesla’s patented technology.
The only company who openly admitted to using Tesla’s patented technology is the Chinese automaker Xpeng, who Tesla actually ended up suing – although not over the use of patented technology but over allegedly stealing the Autopilot source code.
I don’t think that’s going to happen.
When Tesla stopped supplying powertrains and batteries to Daimler and Toyota, Elon said that Tesla was constrained by battery supply and needed all the batteries it could get for its own electric vehicle production.
This seems to still be true today and for the foreseeable future according to comment Elon made as recently as last week.
On the other side, automakers need to want to rely on Tesla for those and there might be a few interested parties, but I think most automakers want to develop their own expertise in what is becoming the new life and blood of the auto industry.
As for software, I don’t know what that would look like.
I know about software licensing deals in the auto industry like what Polestar has with Google’s Android, but I am not sure Tesla could have a similar deal.
There’s also battery management software, Autopilot software, over-the-air update software, and many other uses of software inside the cars.
I’d be curious how a licensing deal for some of those products would look like.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
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