Tesla Handing Over the Keys to Its Technology

Electric car maker Tesla Motors is handing over the keys to its technology in an unusual effort to encourage other automakers to expand beyond gasoline-burning vehicles.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised Thursday to give away the company's entire patent portfolio to all comers, as long as they promised not to engage courtroom battles over intellectual property

"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," Musk wrote in a blog on the company's Web site.

The decision opens the door to more collaboration with Tesla, which is already making electric systems for Daimler and Toyota. Other automakers using Tesla's technology could potentially share the cost of Tesla's charging stations, for example. And more charging stations could entice skeptical buyers to try electric cars.

Seven years after Tesla introduced the Roadster electric sports car -- which it no longer makes -- electric cars still make up less than 1 percent of U.S. sales. Drivers remain concerned about their range and the lack of places to get a charge. Stable gasoline prices have also hurt sales.

Musk wants Tesla to help change that. The Palo Alto, California-based company currently makes one vehicle -- the $70,000 Model S sedan -- and is developing two others. Its Model X crossover is due out next year, and Tesla wants to start making a cheaper model by 2017. It's currently scouting locations for a $5 billion battery factory to increase supplies.

But Musk said Tesla can't make a dent in the market by itself, and thinks the patents could be a "modest" help to other companies developing electric cars. He says Tesla has gotten few requests for technology from rivals, but he thinks that's partly because patents were...

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