Tesla’s copycat fears

The firm is worried about rivals ripping off its technology

Tesla’s copycat fears
The more Tesla divulges, the more it wonders how closely other firms are paying attention

US EV pure play Tesla has doubts over re-running its AI and Battery Day events owing to fears over cannibalisation of its IP by its other OEMs. But it has fewer fears about rivals being able to match upcoming vehicle manufacturing innovations.      

“We have found that, when we do these AI Days, some of our competitors literally look at what we do on a frame-by-frame basis. And then we find these things being copied,” says Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

“Same thing with Battery Day. So we have to be a little cautious about revealing the exact recipe of the secret sauce.”

But it is less concerned about any manufacturing breakthroughs it is aiming for as it develops its new mass-market BEV being replicated. “We are obviously doing a lot of manufacturing innovation... for a next-generation vehicle,” says Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice-president, vehicle engineering.

And these new processes are requiring new machines, which is a key factor behind Tesla’s level of comfort on retaining any lead it can open up. “There are a lot of specialised machines… for a next-gen vehicle,” says Musk.

“These are not machines you can just order from anyone. You have to design a machine that has never existed to build a car in a way that has never existed.”

“You do not just have a design validation phase, but you have an equipment design validation phase as well,” adds Karn Budhiraj, Tesla’s vie-president, supply chain.

“It does make it very hard to copy us because you have to copy the machine that makes the machine that makes the machine,” Musk warms to his theme. “I think it is quite a powerful sustainable advantage, because there is just no place to go to order the machines that make our next-gen car.”

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