Musk's EV patent pitch piques Krafcik's curiosity

Tesla's Model S: Intriguing battery technology.

What did John Krafcik do when he heard about those electric-vehicle patents Tesla CEO Elon Musk made available to the public this month? Curiosity got the better of the ex-Hyundai Motor America boss, who is now TrueCar's president.

Krafcik, a top Ford engineer before joining Hyundai, spent an hour online perusing several Tesla patents. He was intrigued that Tesla combines thousands of small battery cells to power a car, while other carmakers use larger-cell, mass-storage battery packs.

"There were a lot of patents around the idea of using individual AA-battery-sized or laptop cells and tying them all together," he said. "They protect the idea Tesla has that this is the right way to do it, to string together 7,000 individual cells.

"I'm not a battery expert and I don't know if that is the right solution," he said. "I am just very curious why every other automaker's approach on batteries is so different."