Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk said on Wednesday that the EV maker is happy to share its software, powertrains and batteries, even adding that it would be open to licensing Autopilot.
The move to software and technology seller would place Tesla even more firmly in the tech space, as opposed to the automotive space, and help explain the massive market value that is being placed on ts stock.
It’s a positioning in the market that, as Giles Parkinson notes in this report has elevated it far beyond that of mundane car maker towards a trillion-dollar valuation.
In a tweet on Tuesday (US time), Musk responded to a report that European automakers are playing catch-ups to Tesla’s 10 year head start on electric and autonomous automotive technology, saying,”Tesla is open to licensing software and supplying powertrains & batteries.”
“We’re just trying to accelerate sustainable energy, not crush competitors!” said Musk.
Pressed on whether “software” includes Tesla’s driver-assist Autopilot features, Musk replied, “Sure.”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 29, 2020
It’s not as if sharing and collaborating on technology is something that is new, particularly in the electric mobility space.
Just about every big car maker has inked a deal or shaken hands with another to accelerate development on electric drivetrains, autonomous driving technology, batteries, or all of the above.
From Ford and Volkswagen, General Motors (GM) and Honda, to BYD and Toyota, partnerships like these all seek to mitigate the immense development costs needed to completely re-align legacy manufacturing structures to electric mobility.
But, with Tesla so far ahead of the game – as noted by both Volkswagen and GM on multiple occasions – is undertaking the mammoth task really worth it when they could simply use technology on offer from Tesla (for a fee, of course).
That could of course go some way to destroying competition in itself, however, if Tesla’s competitors were to take the EV maker up on the offer instead of developing their own software, batteries and drivetrains.
Although considering the way the Tesla Model 3 is already upturning auto markets it could also be considered a lifeline.
Would drivers be more willing to buy an electric car if they knew it was a Tesla “under the hood”?
It could still give auto makers the opportunity to branch out in other areas – less minimal interiors, or brand-specific tech features, for example.
Whether this would make any difference if Musk’s plan for “robotaxis” succeeds is another question – it was not made clear if Musk’s licencing offer includes the upgraded Full Self Driving software and hardware that will underpin fully autonomous driving is also on the table.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.