To help push more electric cars into showrooms, Tesla Motors has opened its electric vehicle patent portfolio (there are 172) to all automakers. Most of them (120) revolve around battery and charging technologies. It’s a generous offer–and it sure did make news–but big auto companies like GM, Toyota and Honda already have hundreds of electric vehicle-related US patents: 686, 663, 662, respectively. What they don’t have is Wes Hermann, the mechanical engineer who’s had a hand in 57 of Tesla’s patents. (Fun fact: The company’s namesake, the genius Nikola Tesla, accumulated nearly 300 patents during his incendiary career. See: Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century.)
Prior to Tesla Motors, Wes Hermann worked at the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University, where he did extensive research on Exergy, and earned two degrees. No doubt about it, he’s a smart guy. It’s not hard to imagine Hermann’s having actually suggested open-sourcing the patents–he’s the kind of engineer who lives and breathes sustainability. At Stanford he lived in the student-run cooperative, Synergy, where all the co-eds strongly support “an acute awareness of the environment” and had to put in 5 hours of work every week–cooking and/or cleaning. Hermann has the pedigree for sharing.
Below is Wes Hermann’s Wikipedia User page, last modified December 4, 2006.