Tesla Open to Licensing Autopilot, Full Self-Driving, and Supercharging Access to Other Automakers

Feb 2, 2021   

Elon Musk revealed during Tesla’s Q4 2020 earnings call that Tesla is open to licensing its software to other companies.

Tesla is willing to license its own Autopilot and Full Self-Driving software to companies that request them. Specifically and most notably, other automakers.

Very few automakers develop in-house autonomous systems for their vehicles, with a majority relying on the same increasingly-outdated setup from a company called Mobileye. This system relies on a single camera and has numerous limitations, with many competitors’ vehicles as a result still on the first level of autonomy. Vehicles that additionally include lane keep assistance bring their autonomy to level 2. Autopilot is considered to be a level 2 autonomous feature, with a more advanced setup of multiple cameras that makes the current-generation version possible. (Autopilot 1.0 was based on Mobileye’s technology.)

Additionally, Tesla has indicated that other electric vehicles would be welcome to use its Supercharging network. Considering that Supercharging utilizes a proprietary connector and needs to interface with the Tesla Network as well as the onboard computer of the electric vehicle itself, consumers will have to wait for automakers to reach a direct partnership. It may not take as long as expected though, with Musk Tweeting in December that “Tesla Superchargers are being made accessible to other electric cars.”

As a result Tesla is not trying to create a closed ecosystem exclusive to its own cars, and is willing to help other automakers accelerate their own electric and autonomous movements.

Real Talk

Undoubtedly this is going to come at a cost to automakers, but the benefits would outweigh the potentially increased cost compared to other solutions. Equipping a vehicle with Tesla’s version of Autopilot would be a selling point that could be easily used for marketing.

One day soon we may see a vehicle from I.e. Nissan or Hyundai with Autopilot and Supercharging access. This could be an interesting experiment for all involved. Will the market tolerate a non-Tesla vehicle that has features comparable to a Tesla?

While we see Supercharging becoming a potentially lucrative business if other automakers are open to it, a vehicle with Tesla’s software could end up being a one-off like the early Tesla-Mercedes partnership for its ill-fated Mercedes B-class hatchback.

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