Can you imagine sharing the secret sauce which makes your business unique — and successful? Well, Elon Musk, the man that tech blogs love to call a real-life Tony Stark, has dropped hints that his electric car business, Tesla, might do just that. The proposal was mooted by Musk at the firm's shareholder meeting last week, and he followed that up with an interview with the BBC which did more than suggest the possibility.
"Are you considering giving technology away?" asked journalist Theo Leggett.
"You're on the right track," was the gnomic reply. "We're trying to figure out how to accelerate the advent of electric cars and, to the degree that we create technical barriers for them, it's not going to happen. We don't want to cut a path through the jungle and then lay a bunch of landmines behind us."
The tech business is, on a par with Defense, one of the most secretive industries in the world. If, however, Tesla were to become the first open-source automotive project, it could bring electric cars screeching into the driveways of the world's car owners. Google's Pikachu-esque self-driving prototype vehicle, launched last month, also runs on electricity and, although Mountain View's ultimate aim is to bring the sharing economy to cars, rather than Musk's more traditional business model, it would make good use of Tesla's openness. (Google co-founder Sergey Brin is a Tesla owner, and had it customised by his Google X team for April Fool's day last year.)
Tesla, which turned a profit for the first time in 2013, is by far the highest-profile e-vehicle manufacturer in the auto business. Part of that has to do with its founder's high profile — and not to mention sky's-the-limit dreams. Musk is, of course, the man behind SpaceX and the Hyperloop concept, a west-coast transport system that works using a magnetic linear accelerator that would (theoretically) catapult travelers between Los Angeles and San Francisco at speeds of up to 760 miles per hour.