Elon Musk says Tesla could ‘open up more source code’ to other automakers

Elon Musk suggested Thursday during a Twitter spaces with Ford CEO Jim Farley that Tesla could open up some of its automotive operating system code to other automakers.

“In the same way that perhaps Android is useful to the phone industry as a kind of general standard, we could potentially open source code more,” Musk said. If Tesla makes that leap, it will compete with Google, which has developed an Android-based operating system for cars, as well as Apple.

Musk was responding to Farley’s note that making a “fully software-upgradable vehicle” is “very difficult.” The billionaire executive said Tesla would be happy to “be helpful on the software front.”

Musk made the comment during a Twitter space that was used to announce a landmark deal between Tesla and Ford. Under the agreement announced Thursday, Ford electric vehicle customers will have access to the Tesla Supercharging network at the United States and Canada. More importantly, Ford has agreed to incorporate Tesla’s charging port into its second generation of electric vehicles, which includes a pickup truck and a three-row SUV, starting in 2025.

Musk often spits out ideas for Tesla at live events, some of which come to fruition and some of which don’t. If Tesla were to try to market its over-the-air software to other vehicles, it would put the automaker in direct competition with Google and Apple.

Google offers car manufacturers Android operating system for cars, which is modeled after his open source mobile operating system that runs on Linux and is modified for use in cars. Apple also jumped into the operating system game last June when it announced what is Next Generation CarPlay it is intended to power the entire instrument cluster of a vehicle. Both tech companies also offer a middleware product called Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that connects a user’s phone to a car’s infotainment system.

Supply Chain Associations

Musk and Farley also hinted at other potential partnerships down the road on Thursday, including in supply chain.

The CEO of Ford questioned Musk about the new Tesla Corpus Christi lithium refining plant. Ford recently reached a series of agreementseven with Albemarle and SQM, to ensure the automaker’s access to lithium.

Musk echoed earlier issues that there aren’t enough entrepreneurs in the US mining and processing raw materials, and that he wishes Tesla wouldn’t have to take over. He said the company has a nickel-based cathode refinery in Austin, and may have to get involved in anode manufacturing as well, but “hopefully not.”

Musk noted that there will be a large market for synthetic graphite (graphite is the main material in most lithium-ion anodes).

The two CEOs have remained friendly at times despite competing with each other. Musk has praised the automaker in the past, noting on several occasions that only Tesla and Ford have avoided bankruptcy.

Ford, like other legacy automakers, is still aiming to unseat Tesla as the number one seller of electric vehicles in the United States. Ford has a ways to go.

In 2022, Ford sold 61,575 EVs in the US. Tesla sold 1.3 million EVs worldwide. The company does not break down sales by country. In the last two years, Ford said so lost about $3 billion in its EV and digital services business, a unit now known as Model e. The company does not expect the Model e to be profitable until the end of 2026 with an operating profit margin of 8%. However, Ford’s traditional gasoline engine units were profitable enough to offset those losses.

In terms of production, Ford aims to reach 600,000 EV units by the end of 2023 and 2 million by the end of 2026.

Tesla said it wants to achieve a 50% compound annual growth rate by 2023 that should see the automaker produce 1.8 million cars.


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