Did Elon Musk Compare The Electric Car Business To A Sinking Ship?

Elon Musk madeanother appearance on “The Colbert Report”last night and when asked by the host why Tesla hadrecently given away all its patents, Musk replied with an alarming analogy.

“Why are you being the Edward Snowden of you?” Colbert inquired.

“If we’re all in a ship together,” Musk said, “and the ship has some holes in it, and we’re sort of bailing water out of it, and we have a great design for a bucket, then even if we’re bailing out way better than everyone else, we should probably still share the bucket design.”

So what “ship” is Musk talking about here? Planet Earth? Or the electric car business?

Maybe both. Obviously, Musk is worried about the fate of our Big Blue Marble. He’s publicly stated that his quest to colonize Mars is all about “backing up the biosphere.” But despite Tesla’s impressive performance since its IPO in 2010, the rest of electric-car market isn’t in such great shape.

Better Place went bankrupt. CODA went bankrupt. Fisker went bankrupt. Aptera liquidated. Bright Automotive shut down. Wheego is still around, and outside the startup scene, there’s the Nissan Leaf, the Honda Fit EV, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, as well as a spate of full-electric cars and plug-ins from other major manufacturers, but nothing that’s selling at major volume or captivating the imagination like Tesla (a.k.a. “The Bucket”).

It’s enough to keep a visionary multibillionaire up at night. Or compel him to take the unprecedented step, for the auto industry, of open-sourcing all the tech that underlies his $US28-billion market cap company.

On a lighter note, we also learned that software upgrades to the Model S sedan will enable owners to do what grandmothers have been doing for decades: Name their cars. Musk of course has the upgrade already and has christened his personal Model S “Old Faithful.” Colbert didn’t say what he was going to name his Tesla, but we’re thinking “Stephen” is a good bet.

Old Faithful in YellowstoneShutterstock.comOld Faithful erupts in Yellowstone National Park.

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