A month back Elon Musk said come one, come all (in good faith) and use our patents. Its okay! Lots of commentary was written about how Elon Musk is the shining beacon in this world of patent trolls. This should be the way every large company should look at their patents and have the willingness to move forward with others. And it went on…
Tesla built a brilliant car. But then they realised that in order for this car to find mainstream adoption, there would be a great deal of infrastructure that needs to be put in place. Now, no single company can put all of this infrastructure in place across the world.
Companies in the Valley tend to be putting a few charging points in their parking lots for free for Tesla users and Tesla itself is putting a few charging station. At the end of the day, the cannot put charging points everywhere. Also, if the entire population were to plug their cars in, the power consumption will no longer be negligible in the grand scheme of things. There needs to be a way of passing the cost on to the user and standardising this.
The trouble is, if a large portion of the industry does not accept this modus as standard, this may never happen. If one car manufacturer is going the oil route, the other hybrid, and still another one with Hydrogen; each will have to create an eco-system of their own. For the sales of Tesla to balloon, this approach - Electric Cars - have to be accepted as a mainstream solution, the best solution and the most popular solution.
By throwing the patents open to other car companies he laying down a bait for them to bite on. It is no longer a question of product, but a question of strategy. Will you go with Electric or not? Not whether you like the Electric car made by Tesla or another company, since there are not too many others.
Building this market from here forward alone is going to be a gargantuan task and Elon Musk knows it. Not to mention, the alternate possibility where one of the other strategies (Hydrogen Cars) works better, which will be an existential risk!
That is the real reason to throw open the patents. Nothing generous about it.