Tesla 'open source' their patents

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Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby elasto » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:07 am UTC

Elon Musk wrote:Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.

At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.


Bonus nerd points for titling their blog post "All Our Patent Are Belong To You" also!

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby mobiusstripsearch » Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:21 pm UTC

Reminds me of the Franklin Stove, which Ben did not patent on grounds “that as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously”.

But what patents did get -- anything good?
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Tirian » Fri Jun 13, 2014 6:48 pm UTC

Great, five years from now we'll all be paying through the nose to drive Edisons.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Cleverbeans » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:07 pm UTC

From the Globe and Mail.
Elon Musk said the company would not take legal action against anyone who “in good faith wants to use our technology.”


Define "good faith" here. Has there been any explicit mention of how much they're releasing and under what conditions?
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Tirian » Sat Jun 14, 2014 12:51 am UTC

http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/l ... tml#page=1

TL/DR: Tesla is releasing all of their patents (which aren't secrets anyways, natch), but not their unpatented trade secrets. So they're figuring that everyone who takes them up on the offer will be a generation behind Tesla for the foreseeable future while they figure out how to take all of the components and turn them into an automobile. Also, anyone who wants to build an electric car will almost certainly buy the batteries from the partnership between Tesla and Panasonic, because the entry cost to that market is wild. In exchange, more players means more voices calling for electric filling stations and other infrastructure that will be necessary for electric cars to displace the internal combustion engine from the world.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Brace » Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:11 am UTC

This post had objectionable content.
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby ahammel » Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:12 am UTC

Has Musk done any more than promise not to sue anybody who infringes on Tesla's patents "in good faith", cross his heart and hope to die?

For that matter, is there a legally binding way to release one's parents before they expire?
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby EMTP » Sat Jun 14, 2014 8:07 am UTC

Tirian wrote:http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-elon-musk-opens-tesla-patents-20140612-story.html#page=1

TL/DR: Tesla is releasing all of their patents (which aren't secrets anyways, natch), but not their unpatented trade secrets. So they're figuring that everyone who takes them up on the offer will be a generation behind Tesla for the foreseeable future while they figure out how to take all of the components and turn them into an automobile. Also, anyone who wants to build an electric car will almost certainly buy the batteries from the partnership between Tesla and Panasonic, because the entry cost to that market is wild. In exchange, more players means more voices calling for electric filling stations and other infrastructure that will be necessary for electric cars to displace the internal combustion engine from the world.


All of which could prove to be a very successful strategy in a purely profit-driven sense. Better a thin and profitable slice of a huge market than a large share in a tiny one. It's the Apple model, of which Musk is a fan.
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Tyndmyr » Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:13 pm UTC

Brace wrote:It's strange to see a position found at the conjunction of far left and anarcho-capitalist ideology made into institutional common practice.


Meh, we have private spaceflight and shit now. I, and a lot of other libertarians, didn't forsee us going THAT far into privatization that quickly...but sometimes reality is stranger than we anticipate.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:44 pm UTC

EMTP wrote:
Tirian wrote:http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-elon-musk-opens-tesla-patents-20140612-story.html#page=1

TL/DR: Tesla is releasing all of their patents (which aren't secrets anyways, natch), but not their unpatented trade secrets. So they're figuring that everyone who takes them up on the offer will be a generation behind Tesla for the foreseeable future while they figure out how to take all of the components and turn them into an automobile. Also, anyone who wants to build an electric car will almost certainly buy the batteries from the partnership between Tesla and Panasonic, because the entry cost to that market is wild. In exchange, more players means more voices calling for electric filling stations and other infrastructure that will be necessary for electric cars to displace the internal combustion engine from the world.


All of which could prove to be a very successful strategy in a purely profit-driven sense. Better a thin and profitable slice of a huge market than a large share in a tiny one. It's the Apple model, of which Musk is a fan.

It's funny that you mention Apple actually; isn't this partially how Jobs got Apple out of the slump, by opening the software to more outside development?
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby EMTP » Sat Jun 14, 2014 3:12 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
EMTP wrote:
Tirian wrote:http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-elon-musk-opens-tesla-patents-20140612-story.html#page=1

TL/DR: Tesla is releasing all of their patents (which aren't secrets anyways, natch), but not their unpatented trade secrets. So they're figuring that everyone who takes them up on the offer will be a generation behind Tesla for the foreseeable future while they figure out how to take all of the components and turn them into an automobile. Also, anyone who wants to build an electric car will almost certainly buy the batteries from the partnership between Tesla and Panasonic, because the entry cost to that market is wild. In exchange, more players means more voices calling for electric filling stations and other infrastructure that will be necessary for electric cars to displace the internal combustion engine from the world.


All of which could prove to be a very successful strategy in a purely profit-driven sense. Better a thin and profitable slice of a huge market than a large share in a tiny one. It's the Apple model, of which Musk is a fan.

It's funny that you mention Apple actually; isn't this partially how Jobs got Apple out of the slump, by opening the software to more outside development?


Different people see the App Store strategy differently. I personally read it that Apple saw what happened with PC software -- choices cementing market dominance, and market dominance ensuring customers had more choices -- and decided to be on the winning side of that fight when it came to phones and tablets.
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby KnightExemplar » Sat Jun 14, 2014 3:22 pm UTC

I've written my thoughts on this issue in the "Humorous News" topic.

KnightExemplar wrote:Maybe I'm being cynical...

But when companies release their patents, I expect it to be backed up with legal documentation. For example, the Microsoft Community Promise and the Microsoft Patent Promises. Hell, there was huge controversy whether or not to trust Microsoft even though the legal documentation specified exactly what you can do with their public patents.

Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Subject Patent Claims against you for making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing any implementation of a Covered Specification ("Covered Implementation"), subject to the following. This is a personal promise directly from Microsoft to you, and you acknowledge it is a condition of benefiting from it that no Microsoft rights are received from suppliers, distributors, or otherwise by any other person in connection with this promise.


What we have from Tesla is a blog post written in vague English, entirely subject to Tesla's whims of "in good faith". (If I started making electric cars that compete against Tesla, am I still within "good faith"? What the hell does good faith mean?)

I rate Tesla's "patent release" lower than Microsoft's. And the OSS community is still very wary about C# and Powershell.


Its a blog post. Until Tesla releases the signed legal documentation, what you see there are empty words and empty promises. "Good Faith" is fully up to interpretation. If it is anything like the Good Faith exception to Warrants, then this blog-post is a worthless tautology. (Honorable Judge... I believed that using this patent in this manner was in a manner fully consistent with US Law :roll: )

When companies release their patents, they also release legal documentation.

Microsoft irrevocably promises not to assert any Microsoft Necessary Claims against you as an open source software developer ("You") for making, using, importing, or distributing any implementation of a Covered Specification ("Covered Implementation"), subject to the following. This is a personal promise directly from Microsoft to You, and You acknowledge it is a condition of benefiting from it that no Microsoft rights are received from suppliers, distributors, or otherwise by any other person in connection with this promise. To benefit from this promise, You must be a natural or legal person participating in the creation of software code for an open source project. An "open source project" is a software development project the resulting source code of which is freely distributed, modified, or copied pursuant to an open source license and is not commercially distributed by its participants. If You engage in the commercial distribution or importation of software derived from an open source project or if You make or use such software outside the scope of creating such software code, You do not benefit from this promise for such distribution or for these other activities.


At the moment, this is a press-release designed to drum up support of the Silicon Valley types without actually risking their patents at all. Its a political ploy. It honestly wouldn't take much for Elon Musk to put teeth into this blog post, all he has to do is write and publish more specific words that more carefully defines what "Good Faith" actually means to him. It doesn't have to be on the blog, but it needs to be online somewhere for everyone to see.

Competing car companies are not going to put up $1 Billion+ investments into electric cars because of a Blog Post. In fact, if Tesla said "We will license out our patents for $1", that would prove that both sides have Consideration on the promise and the document will hold up in court. At the moment, this Blog Post amounts to a gift and is unenforceable in the court of law.
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Zamfir » Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:24 pm UTC

I don't get the big improvement of this, over a welcoming to approach to licensing. Anyone with a serious interest in the technology would be willing to pay some money for licensed patents. Especially if the license agreement would contain guarantees for the long term, so they would not risk dangerous changes in the terms after some years into the deal. Surely Tesla could use some income from that, if there was much interest in their patent portfolio?

EDIT: a question for those with more in-depth knowledge of batteries: is there much difference (and advantages) between Tesla's approach to batteries, and those of others? The Tesla S might the most ambitious electric car, but it's also very expensive. Is there a significant technological difference between it and the battery packs in, say, an i3 or Zoe or a plugin hybrid ? Beyond more expensive == more battery?

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby KnightExemplar » Sat Jun 14, 2014 6:25 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:I don't get the big improvement of this, over a welcoming to approach to licensing. Anyone with a serious interest in the technology would be willing to pay some money for licensed patents. Especially if the license agreement would contain guarantees for the long term, so they would not risk dangerous changes in the terms after some years into the deal. Surely Tesla could use some income from that, if there was much interest in their patent portfolio?


Maybe I'm being cynical, but I see this as a massive PR campaign on behalf of Tesla. They're trying to get goodwill from the general population and control their marketing message... without actually risking their patent portfolio at all. If Tesla is truly offering their patents up "out of the goodness of their hearts", then we'll see more obvious actions in the coming weeks. But for now, its a PR campaign, taking advantage of the public's ignorance on these matters.
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Zamfir » Sat Jun 14, 2014 7:20 pm UTC

A bit of googlin suggests that Tesla does use a somewhat different approach than most (and I presume that is reflected in the patents). I can't vouch for the accuracy of my reading.

Tesla builds battery packs from cylindric cells like those in laptops, through the chemistry seems slightly unusual for that market. Other packs for the automotive industry are made from cells designed specifically for the car industry.

Those other cells are produced to higher specs, they are rectangular so more compact to pack, and larger per cell so they can be more easily monitored individually. The laptop cells on the other hand are cheaper, and already produced in large quantities. The car cells are made in specialized factories, so there is a constant struggle where the battery manufacturers don't want to scale up as long as demand is slow, and the car manufacturers demand the lower prices from mass production before they promise large volume buys. But that situation seems improving from a few years ago.

Tesla has specific tricks to reduce the downsides of small cells. Monitoring and safety protection outside of the individual cells, rerouting circuits to deal with failed cells (more likely with lots of low-spec cells), fire retardent around the cells instead of more robust cells.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby aoeu » Sun Jun 15, 2014 12:32 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:A bit of googlin suggests that Tesla does use a somewhat different approach than most (and I presume that is reflected in the patents). I can't vouch for the accuracy of my reading.

Tesla builds battery packs from cylindric cells like those in laptops, through the chemistry seems slightly unusual for that market. Other packs for the automotive industry are made from cells designed specifically for the car industry.

Those other cells are produced to higher specs, they are rectangular so more compact to pack, and larger per cell so they can be more easily monitored individually. The laptop cells on the other hand are cheaper, and already produced in large quantities. The car cells are made in specialized factories, so there is a constant struggle where the battery manufacturers don't want to scale up as long as demand is slow, and the car manufacturers demand the lower prices from mass production before they promise large volume buys. But that situation seems improving from a few years ago.

Tesla has specific tricks to reduce the downsides of small cells. Monitoring and safety protection outside of the individual cells, rerouting circuits to deal with failed cells (more likely with lots of low-spec cells), fire retardent around the cells instead of more robust cells.

So this is a case of opening up just before the competition has caught up to you? I wonder if any car companies will reduce their efforts to develop alternative tech because of this, and whether that would be the best long term outcome.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Zamfir » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:01 am UTC

I still don't know if there is anything for people to catch up to. The impression I get is that Tesla (and a predecessor ckmpa y called AC powertrain) have cobbled together a method to produce lithium-ion car battery packs, without the need for a automotive-oriented battery supply chain. It's a quick-to-market approach, perfect for the days of the Tesla roadster. But it's from clear if that method has much value once there is such a supply chain.

Laptops are moving away from 18650 cells, Tesla requires a specific chemistry nowadays, and their consumption of cells is growing to be a non negligible fraction of the entire 18650 market. From now on, they themselves will have to generate the demand to justify the further development of their cells, without sharing that cost with a far larger laptop market. That takes away the original advantage of their approach, and it might even turn it into a downside once cars are the largest market for battery cells, with the most development poured into it.

Musk talks about 'clearing the path', 'laying landmines behind him', suggesting that they are far in front of the technology and others are at best trying to follow. Perhaps that's true, but I haven't seen compelling evidence of it. Most car manufacturers are not trying to follow them at all, not in the battery technology, and not in their approach to sell EVs with as much battery as possible.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Soralin » Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:59 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:From now on, they themselves will have to generate the demand to justify the further development of their cells, without sharing that cost with a far larger laptop market.

Or instead of waiting for someone else to do it, they could just just go ahead and build a $5B battery "Gigafactory" themselves. :)
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Zamfir » Sun Jun 15, 2014 3:21 pm UTC

Yes, exactly. If the main strength of your battery technology is that uses standard off-the-shelf cells, then it is not good sign if you plan to finance your own factory to build your own custom cells...

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby EMTP » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:21 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Yes, exactly. If the main strength of your battery technology is that uses standard off-the-shelf cells, then it is not good sign if you plan to finance your own factory to build your own custom cells...


We'll see. It makes a lot of sense to try and cut battery costs with economics of scale. Companies that try to stick to one technological solution that they're good at end up like Kodak. Successful innovators keep moving the bar.

Elon Musk has made a habit of sinking large amounts of money into ventures that look unlikely to pay off, and he's done quite well for himself so far. See: an electric car company (a product that was a watchword for impractical, fringe products) with a current market capitialization of $3 billion.
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 16, 2014 2:47 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Yes, exactly. If the main strength of your battery technology is that uses standard off-the-shelf cells, then it is not good sign if you plan to finance your own factory to build your own custom cells...


Nah, the redundancy and fault-tolerance is still useful even with higher quality batteries, IMO. Yeah, there's some mass production hurdles to clear, but if we want widespread EVs, SOMEONE has to take that risk, and it probably makes the most sense for Tesla to do it.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:40 pm UTC

Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to second-guess investment decisions. That would be rather presumptuous, based on a few hours of browsing. Just trying to build a picture of the relative advantages and disadvantages and how those evolve in time.

My picture as yet: Tesla started off with off-the-shelf laptop cells with cobalt chemistry in the roadster. Those had serious drawbacks, but they allowed Tesla to build a working and more-or-less affordable lithium-ion car years before people had expected. To do so, they developed a range of technologies to turn small and unsafe cells into large and safe battery packs, at moderate extra cost. This involves special welding machines, lot of monitoring electronics, active cooling systems, fire retardants, and probably more that I haven't figured out. It appears to work, but I can understand why others are in no hurry to develop similar technology.

Currently they are in a second phase: they use a different, nickel-based chemistry more suited to cars. They did not develop this chemistry, others can buy the same cells or put the chemistry in other cells. Other car manufacturers use related chemistries, but more conservative: more stable but lower energy density. This might be related to the active cooling etc. that Tesla developed to deal with the cobalt cells.

These cells are produced by the same machines that used to make laptop cells, but they are not used in laptops. A factory making these cells cannot sell excess supply elsewhere, tesla is the only buyer. Laptops are switching to flat packs, and therefore Panasonic was willing to convert an existing plant to Tesla's preferred chemistry. According to rumour, Panasonic and other battery manufacturers refuse to build new plants for Tesla, at the prices that Tesla is willing to pay for cells.

This setup gives Tesla currently the lowest battery costs. Those 18650 machines are the most optimized factories around, and they are paying purely for the running cost of the machinery, not the initial investment. Market leader Nissan buys more batteries than Tesla, but those are from new plants that are not (yet?) as efficient, and purpose-built for Nissan which had to promise high enough prices to justify that. Unreliable internet estimates say that Tesla's packs cost two-thirds or less of Nissan's, including the higher cost for Tesla's more complicated integration.

That's where the new factory plans become interesting. It confirms the rumour that Tesla cannot convince Panasonic or others to build new and improved 18650 plants for them, so Tesla has to put in more skin of its own. Exactly how much seems up in the air, the plans call for battery manufactures to join in.

At this point, I am sure Tesla has reviewed the option to ditch their current technology strategy, and it appears they have decided to stick with it for longer. Not sure if it will produce 18650s, but the descriptions describe a focus on cost reduction by scale and logistics, which suggests that they plan to stay close to the current most optimized methods. Perhaps larger cylindrical cells?

At a person guess, the cost difference with Nissan (er al.) is going to shrink, even if the Gigafactory is indeed efficient enough to pay off its own cost while also offering a cost improvement. There must be more room to optimize a new process, than to further optimize the already most optimized processes. But they might not catch up, even with improvements. That's Tesla's gamble, I won't judge on that.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby moiraemachy » Mon Jun 16, 2014 10:22 pm UTC

If you ask me (but don't quote me on that), Tesla's approach of many small cells makes a lot of sense even when you remove bottlenecks at the supply chain: power transistors, cooling solutions, monitoring electronics, these are all cheap compared to the cost of the batteries themselves. In fact, I suspect the reason Nissan is not using something similar is precisely because of Tesla's patents. In fact, I suspect the goal with here is to sell batteries to Nissan and others when the gigafactory is running.

Zamfir wrote:At a person guess, the cost difference with Nissan (er al.) is going to shrink, even if the Gigafactory is indeed efficient enough to pay off its own cost while also offering a cost improvement. There must be more room to optimize a new process, than to further optimize the already most optimized processes. But they might not catch up, even with improvements.


Assuming that there will be no lack of demand, this gigafactory will offer a cost improvement and pay its initial investment: regular 18650 cell factories do exist, therefore they are economical (pay their initial investment and produce profit). This factory will at least perform as well as a regular 18650 factory, since if it doesn't, why wouldn't they just get blueprints for 18650 factories and make several side by side? And from an engineering perspective: no matter how optimized the process of producing 18650s is, their initial goal was not to be used on cars. So there certainly are some economical design tradeoffs to be made. Also, they can integrate their multi-cell kludges at early phases of the production process.

The gamble here does not concern production, it concerns demand: what if electric cars never stop being some yuppie novelty?

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby EMTP » Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:22 pm UTC

moiraemachy wrote:The gamble here does not concern production, it concerns demand: what if electric cars never stop being some yuppie novelty?


Telsa is responsible for turning a radical-environmentalist novelty to a yuppie novelty (if novelty is the right word for an objectively superior technology with a shelf full of performance awards.) With the rise of China and India, there will a billion yuppies in the world soon enough. Tesla can make a packet just selling to them.

The point of the gigafactory is to bring Tesla closer to the 35k mass market car. If they can build a car at that price point, I predict the Big Three will soon be called the Big Four.
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:51 am UTC

moiraemachy wrote:The gamble here does not concern production, it concerns demand: what if electric cars never stop being some yuppie novelty?


Then they don't really matter.

But if the price drops, you'll be at a happier point on the demand curve. The automobile market is large, and nobody really relishes paying for gas. Tesla has so far marketed their cars as not simply efficient, but also as classy vehicles. This matters to the general market. Automobiles are a HUGE status symbol/image thing, and even the everyday cars are heavily subject to this factor. It's easier for a luxury image to be adjusted to a somewhat wider scale than it is to class up a budget car image.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Zamfir » Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:56 am UTC


In fact, I suspect the reason Nissan is not using something similar is precisely because of Tesla's patents.

I haven't seen indication that Nissan would like to adopt Tesla's technology if they could. Do you have a reason to suspect this? Nissan is in the lithium bttery business for years and years, they are (alone among car manufacturers) gambling as much on the success of battery-driven cars as Tesla. More so at this point, perhaps. They aren't just planning to build large battery factories, they are already building them. They are investing billions, and Nissan is not a large company by car standards. Renault is larger with deeper pockets, but the focus seems to be in Japan more then a joint effort.

That suggests that Nissan has confidence in its technology, just like Tesla has in theirs. Might be completely misplaced confidence of course, for either of them.

It's the other car manufacturers that are more careful. They commit limited sums to gain experience, but unlike Nissan or Tesla, they seem to prefer to wait out until the battery sellers offer up a product that fits their demands.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:22 am UTC

There are plenty of efforts in other directions. Ford (Focus Electric) , Nissan (Leaf), and Toyota (Prius) all have standardized upon the SAE_J1772 connector. I don't really know how they are building their batteries, but they do all share a cross-company charging platform.

LG Chem has opened a US Plant in Michigan and supplies GM's Chevy Volt and Focus Electric. Maybe its GM and Ford that would use Tesla's batteries? With an all-American supply chain and all... it probably is more relevant to the US Market. But unless LG Chem decides to use Tesla's technology, I don't think there is much advantage for GM and Ford here to just switch suppliers all of a sudden.
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby moiraemachy » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:11 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:I haven't seen indication that Nissan would like to adopt Tesla's technology if they could. Do you have a reason to suspect this?
I think Tesla is the only one doing this battery thing right. Battery longevity is influenced by temperature and charging cycles. So closely monitoring and controlling the cells' status(cell bundles, in this case) makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe there is room for optimization with larger cells, or the chemistry, or the manufacturing process, but still: using electronics to glue your cells together makes a lot of sense to me (and with fine control over charging curves, you can easily adapt to new types of battery). Lets not understate the fact that Tesla is ahead here despite not having the economics of scale at their favor: their batteries now cost around 200$/kWh and weight about 7kg/kWh.

Also, from what I gathered, analysts greatly underestimated battery cost reductions and Tesla only started releasing vague figures around 2013, so it seems reasonable to assume that Nissan only recently realized how far ahead Tesla's tech is.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Lucrece » Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:54 pm UTC

I'd still pay more for an electric car if it meant giving countries like Saudi Arabia the middle finger. It's also a matter of principle where we could develop technologies and products that didn't rely so much on feeding money to billionaire dynasties/tyrants.
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:58 pm UTC

Lucrece wrote:I'd still pay more for an electric car if it meant giving countries like Saudi Arabia the middle finger. It's also a matter of principle where we could develop technologies and products that didn't rely so much on feeding money to billionaire dynasties/tyrants.


I'd pay somewhat more to simply not have to worry about gas variability, etc. Not like, 60-80k, mind you, but some premium.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:40 pm UTC

moiraemachy wrote:
Zamfir wrote:I haven't seen indication that Nissan would like to adopt Tesla's technology if they could. Do you have a reason to suspect this?
I think Tesla is the only one doing this battery thing right. Battery longevity is influenced by temperature and charging cycles. So closely monitoring and controlling the cells' status(cell bundles, in this case) makes a lot of sense to me. Maybe there is room for optimization with larger cells, or the chemistry, or the manufacturing process, but still: using electronics to glue your cells together makes a lot of sense to me (and with fine control over charging curves, you can easily adapt to new types of battery). Lets not understate the fact that Tesla is ahead here despite not having the economics of scale at their favor: their batteries now cost around 200$/kWh and weight about 7kg/kWh.

Also, from what I gathered, analysts greatly underestimated battery cost reductions and Tesla only started releasing vague figures around 2013, so it seems reasonable to assume that Nissan only recently realized how far ahead Tesla's tech is.


Do you have a cite that Tesla is the only one doing proper battery management? Because I call shens here.

I own a Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, and it has three charging phases: Constant Current, Balance, and Constant Voltage.... That balance step is performed on a cell by cell basis. Once charged, it won't let individual cells deeply discharge, and can turn off specific strings early if you are deeply discharging. It notes this to the driver by dropping kW bars in the bottom corner of the dash. It also has full thermal management with heating and air conditioning of the battery pack to maintain longevity and efficiency, if needed. All this is standard, normal tech. I haven't seen anything to indicate that Tesla is doing anything different or awesome here.

Tesla is awesome, and they've built a badass car, but I don't think they have the insurmountable technological lead you seem to think they do.

Edit:

@Trynd:

My electric smart car cost $16k after government subsidies. So, everyone who drives themselves to work in an Ultima or Malibu or whatever... they're the ones paying a premium from my perspective.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Crissa » Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:31 pm UTC

Yeah, you're describing a charging cycle which touches the entire batter while Tesla is describing a charging cycle where each cell of the battery has its own cycle. There are some inefficiencies in that, but also some in all charging cycles.

The amount of power you can get back out of a battery that was charged piecemeal is higher, while the efficiency to charge might be lower (depending on the unit size).

Of course it's not insurmountable. Tesla did it, after all. But their battery packs - and heck, their method of delivering current to the drive motor - was and are steps ahead of the competition.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:04 pm UTC

Crissa wrote:Yeah, you're describing a charging cycle which touches the entire batter while Tesla is describing a charging cycle where each cell of the battery has its own cycle. There are some inefficiencies in that, but also some in all charging cycles.

The amount of power you can get back out of a battery that was charged piecemeal is higher, while the efficiency to charge might be lower (depending on the unit size).

Of course it's not insurmountable. Tesla did it, after all. But their battery packs - and heck, their method of delivering current to the drive motor - was and are steps ahead of the competition.

-Crissa


Everything I'm reading suggests that the advantage of Tesla's pack is their use of off the shelf cylindrical format cells, because cooling large format cells is harder.. ? Nothing about magic chargers, nothing about per cell charge curves. Given that Tesla uses thousands of those tiny tiny cells, I find it highly unlikely that it would be cost effective to charge them all separately as you imply, given that would imply charging each cell at or below 4V. For reference, a Tesla with a dual 10 kW charger would end up with aggregate cell charging currents of 5000 amps, and you'd need a 5000 amp 4v power supply. I sincerely doubt you could fit such a beast in the car. There isn't enough copper in a Tesla to do what you are suggesting, as I believe you are suggesting it. Tesla is charging cells in series, just like every other electric car. I call shens. Prove they're charging each cell separately.

Unless of course, they're doing a cell by cell balancing step, as my Smart does. That would make sense, and it's how... virtually every laptop battery in existence has worked for the better part of a dozen years.

Also, what method are they using to get power to the drive motor that isn't just like every other motor controller in existence? I fail to see how you can get much better than the 90-95% efficient controllers that have been around for the better part of 20 years. Once again, would love to be proven wrong here.

I think, the real magic of Tesla, has been in using mostly off the shelf hardware to build a damned good car, then sell it for a price the Luxury market could afford, and would want.

--Steve

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:52 pm UTC

stevey_frac wrote:@Trynd:

My electric smart car cost $16k after government subsidies. So, everyone who drives themselves to work in an Ultima or Malibu or whatever... they're the ones paying a premium from my perspective.


The tesla cars have a better range than a lot of other offerings...and there frankly aren't a lot of electric options, at least here in the US. I drive sufficiently in a given day that the smaller short-hop electric cars would be...probably risky as a daily driver, and definitely unsuited for road trips when they arise. It's really more of an intersection in affordability and range. I can take a certain limit on both for the advantages, but we're not *quite* there yet. Getting closer, tho, and I'm excited for future progress in this area.

Also, I do believe the Tesla charges individually, and yes, the infrastructure for supporting that is significant. Don't have a source, this is simply remembered information from previous "how this works" breakdowns. Can't really answer the precise details of battery advantages over other suppliers, but heat is definitely significant. They've gone to great lengths to avoid overheating/critical failure, which is pretty important as you scale the overall battery capacity upward.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:06 pm UTC

stevey_frac wrote:
I think, the real magic of Tesla, has been in using mostly off the shelf hardware to build a damned good car, then sell it for a price the Luxury market could afford, and would want.


I think this undersells them. Yes, they went for (more or less) off-the-shelf batteries, but they worked really hard to make those work, to counteract all the downsides that stopped others from using those same cells. That's a major accomplishment. No one else seriously tried to do that, and even today no one else seems very interested in trying. They made the gamble that they could turn the OTS batteries into something "good enough", and pulled it off while others were waiting for (and developing) better battery technology.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby stevey_frac » Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:59 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
stevey_frac wrote:
I think, the real magic of Tesla, has been in using mostly off the shelf hardware to build a damned good car, then sell it for a price the Luxury market could afford, and would want.


I think this undersells them. Yes, they went for (more or less) off-the-shelf batteries, but they worked really hard to make those work, to counteract all the downsides that stopped others from using those same cells. That's a major accomplishment. No one else seriously tried to do that, and even today no one else seems very interested in trying. They made the gamble that they could turn the OTS batteries into something "good enough", and pulled it off while others were waiting for (and developing) better battery technology.


Wasn't my intent to undersell them, or to make light of their accomplishments. I'm merely pointing out that the Tesla doesn't possess the magical properties that some of it's supporters say it does.

Tesla doesn't have any super crazy next gen charging or battery packs, or motors or controllers. What they do have is solid, OTS batteries, in a very well engineered battery pack, coupled to solid but not mythical controllers, feeding solid but not mythical electric motors. I think that's part of the reason why Elon started Tesla, and why he open sourced these patents. He's showing, proof positive, that any motor company in the world could produce these cars, and also that they choose not to. Tesla doesn't have any magic sauce, and there is no reason why GM or Ford couldn't build exactly the same car. I do think it's interesting that they didn't though, don't you?

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:10 pm UTC

Nobody is postulating magic, just technical developments ahead of competitors.

Also, I note that Ford and GM...GM in particular, have had some other financial concerns, as well as legacy costs that new competitors don't have. Electric cars are not being surpressed by some cabal, it's just a matter of new tech taking development, risk, etc that the big US firms are maybe not in a great place to gamble on. I believe it's fairly obvious that Ford and GM would rather take a safe, mildly profitable bet over a gamble on electric cars....I mean, how many years now have they put out slightly restyled versions of the F-150? If something works, there's not a lot of motivation for them to change it.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby moiraemachy » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:26 pm UTC

Here's the best I could find:

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/51 ... nnovation/

And some patents themselves:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=12&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&p=1&p=1&S1=(%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery)&OS=%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery&RS=(%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery) : suggests that they control cell voltages at a very fine level.
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=18&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&p=1&p=1&S1=(%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery)&OS=%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery&RS=(%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery) : they perform adjustments to charge cycles.
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=%22tesla+motors%22&OS=%22tesla+motors%22&RS=%22tesla+motors%22 : they use more charging steps.

And the list goes on, have fun:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=0&f=S&l=50&d=PTXT&OS=%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery&RS=%28%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery%29&Query=%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery&TD=159&Srch1=%28%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery%29&NextList1=Next+50+Hits

To me, the big picture is: EV batteries require several (a hundred?) cells in series, and a cell failing may cause problems to all cells in series. Everyone except Tesla tackled this problem by making better, bigger, more expensive individual cells which are less likely to fail and with integrated protection mechanisms. The guys at Tesla instead went for a scalable, fail-tolerant approach that works with shittier cells that are significantly cheaper.

And this is not a kludge, this is engineering done right. If the "make cells more reliable" approach is not economical, then considering fault handling and tolerance is what should be done.

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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby KnightExemplar » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:15 am UTC

moiraemachy wrote:To me, the big picture is: EV batteries require several (a hundred?) cells in series, and a cell failing may cause problems to all cells in series. Everyone except Tesla tackled this problem by making better, bigger, more expensive individual cells which are less likely to fail and with integrated protection mechanisms. The guys at Tesla instead went for a scalable, fail-tolerant approach that works with shittier cells that are significantly cheaper.

And this is not a kludge, this is engineering done right. If the "make cells more reliable" approach is not economical, then considering fault handling and tolerance is what should be done.


I would be wary of reading articles that describe engineering concepts from marketing material and extrapolating out of it. For example, lets take the Chevy Volt ($35,000, about half the cost of the Tesla).

https://media.gm.com/content/dam/Media/ ... ry_101.pdf

[The] Chevrolet Volt extended-range electricvehicle(E-REV) will be powered by a 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack manufactured by GM and comprising more than 200 lithium-ion cells


The "secret sauce" of companies is going to be shrouded in secret, mostly because no one gives a damn of what everyone else is doing. The resources of each company are different that what Tesla finds useful is not going to be useful to GM or Ford (both of whom own massive factories and can control their own supply chain)
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Re: Tesla 'open source' their patents

Postby stevey_frac » Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:19 am UTC

moiraemachy wrote:Here's the best I could find:

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/51 ... nnovation/

And some patents themselves:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=12&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&p=1&p=1&S1=(%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery)&OS=%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery&RS=(%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery) : suggests that they control cell voltages at a very fine level.
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=18&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&p=1&p=1&S1=(%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery)&OS=%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery&RS=(%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery) : they perform adjustments to charge cycles.
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=%22tesla+motors%22&OS=%22tesla+motors%22&RS=%22tesla+motors%22 : they use more charging steps.

And the list goes on, have fun:
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=0&f=S&l=50&d=PTXT&OS=%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery&RS=%28%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery%29&Query=%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery&TD=159&Srch1=%28%22tesla+motors%22+AND+battery%29&NextList1=Next+50+Hits

To me, the big picture is: EV batteries require several (a hundred?) cells in series, and a cell failing may cause problems to all cells in series. Everyone except Tesla tackled this problem by making better, bigger, more expensive individual cells which are less likely to fail and with integrated protection mechanisms. The guys at Tesla instead went for a scalable, fail-tolerant approach that works with shittier cells that are significantly cheaper.

And this is not a kludge, this is engineering done right. If the "make cells more reliable" approach is not economical, then considering fault handling and tolerance is what should be done.


Your first link, I'd already read, and says nothing of interest other than that they use small form factor cells, instead of big cells preferred by other manufacturers, which I'd already noted.

Your patent about cell voltage control, is actually about the innovative technique of... Skipping voltage detection per cell, in favor of voltage detection per pair of cells. So, we're already well away from per cell charging, since, they can't actually detect voltage per cell at this point. Most normal battery packs DO have voltage per cell voltage detection. This indicates that Tesla is cutting corners, not that they have more advanced tech. Now, it's quite possible that this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, given the type of pack they build.

The adjustment per charge cycle... well, that's nothing new... Virtually every laptop that uses lithium ion batteries do that, and the system I described earlier does that.

The patent about using multiple stages, describes almost verbatim the process I described that the Smart uses, with the caveat that they break up the balancing stage into a few different stages, and they also split the constant current stage. This likely mostly to do with rising resistance as the cells charge. Nothing about charging per cell at all. The split balancing stage is likely to do with the fact that they can't balance per cell like my Smart can, since there are too many cells.

moiraemachy wrote:To me, the big picture is: EV batteries require several (a hundred?) cells in series, and a cell failing may cause problems to all cells in series. Everyone except Tesla tackled this problem by making better, bigger, more expensive individual cells which are less likely to fail and with integrated protection mechanisms. The guys at Tesla instead went for a scalable, fail-tolerant approach that works with shittier cells that are significantly cheaper.


This is an entirely different claim then your original claim of 'charging every cell individually'. I looked for any evidence of that claim, and didn't see anything particularly interesting.

You are now making an entirely different claim that the Tesla pack is more 'scalable' which is... interesting, and unsubstantiated. I'm fairly confident that the custom cells will scale as much as they want. And that it is more fault tolerant... I'm not entirely sure that's true. If a cell goes up, the entire module goes down, and the pack will be without that string. That might be slightly better than the large format cells, but then, the large format cells are more resilient cells, so... that might not be an advantage.

And you can hardly claim that the Tesla pack is gobs cheaper then the competition, considering the Chevrolet Volt pack costs $2,347.80 for a 16 kW/hr pack (A cost of $147 / kW/hr).

Link to chevy volt pack.

Now, don't get me wrong, execution is everything, and the Model S is executed beautifully. What they don't have is amazing new technology that no one else has.


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