Elon Musk is willing to share the technology behind his Tesla Superchargers, the fast-charging plug-in stations for his company’s electric cars, the CEO revealed at the UK launch of the Model S this past weekend (via Engadget).
Musk said he’d be willing to open up the designs in order to build a standard that can be used interchangeably across the industry. This would allow competing electric car models to charge up at the Supercharger network that already dots the U.S. and beyond.
Musk has some caveats for potential partners, however: Anyone looking to use the network would also have to embrace Tesla’s free power for life model, wherein the costs of the electricity itself used to power the vehicles is built into the car’s initial price tag, instead of charged on a repeating basis every time someone wants to fill up. They’d also have to chip in with maintenance costs for Supercharger stations, which Musk says aren’t all that steep anyway. Most Supercharger locations are provided to the company without any rent charges because they’re seen as a way to attract EV owners who essentially become a captive audience for the business while refuelling.
It’s unlikely to go so smoothly as Musk offering and his competitors accepting. But the fact that he’s apparently willing to hand over access to what amounts to a strong early-mover advantage shows that his priorities lie in ensuring there’s strong infrastructure in place for EV transport to really get a secure foothold in a market traditionally not friendly to its existence.