Elon Musk suggested on Thursday during Twitter Spaces with Ford CEO Jim Farley that Tesla could open up some of its automotive operating system code to other automakers.
“The same way Android is maybe useful to the phone industry as a sort of general standard, like we could potentially open up more code,” Musk said. If Tesla makes the leap, it will be in competition with Google, which has developed an Android-based car operating system, as well as Apple.
Musk was responding to Farley’s note that creating a “fully software-updated vehicle” is “super hard.” The billionaire executive said Tesla would be happy “to be helpful on the software front.”
Musk made the comment during a Twitter Spaces 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 Tesla’s supercharging network in the United States and Canada. More importantly, Ford has agreed to integrate Tesla’s charging port into its second generation of electric vehicles, which includes a truck and a three-row SUV, starting in 2025.
Musk often pitches ideas for Tesla at live events, some of which come to fruition and some that don’t. If Tesla tried to market its over-the-air update software to other vehicles, it would put the automaker in direct competition with Google and Apple.
Google offers automakers Android car operating system, which is inspired by its open-source mobile operating system that runs on Linux and is modified for use in cars. Apple also jumped into the OS game last June when it announced what it is Next Generation CarPlay is intended to power the entire instrument cluster of a vehicle. The two 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 partnerships
Musk and Farley also hinted at other potential future partnerships on Thursday, including in supply chain.
Ford CEO asked Musk about Tesla’s new Corpus Christi Lithium Refining Plant. Ford recently reached a series of agreementsin particular with Albemarle and SQM, to ensure the manufacturer’s access to lithium.
Musk repeated previous woes that there aren’t enough entrepreneurs in the United States digging into the extraction and processing of raw materials, and that he wishes Tesla didn’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 “I hope not.”
Musk noted that there will be a huge market for synthetic graphite (graphite is the primary material for most lithium-ion anodes).
The two CEOs sometimes remained friendly despite competing against each other. Musk has praised the automaker in the past, repeatedly noting that only Tesla and Ford have avoided bankruptcy.
Ford, like other mainstream automakers, is still aiming to overthrow Tesla as the top seller of electric vehicles in the United States. Ford has a long way to go.
In 2022, Ford sold 61,575 electric vehicles in the United States. Tesla has sold 1.3 million electric vehicles worldwide. The company does not break down sales by country. For the past two years, Ford has said so lost about $3 billion on its EV and digital services business, a unit now known as Model e. The company does not expect the Model e to be profitable before the end of 2026 with an operating profit margin of 8%. Ford’s traditional gasoline engines, however, were profitable enough to offset these losses.
In terms of production, Ford aims to reach 600,000 electric units by the end of 2023 and 2 million by the end of 2026.
Tesla said it aims to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 50% in 2023, which should see the automaker produce 1.8 million cars.