Wow, somebody that wants to discuss the car, instead of the beta.
You raise an interesting point. The question is, when does that start to matter? Is it a problem if the electric motor is patent encumbered, but there are 7 other drop-in replacements you could use, and 27 adaptable replacements? After all, at some point we all post our Slashdot rants using computers built around a patent encumbered CPU built in a US$3Billion fab, not one built in our basements. (I've built CPU's from buckets of parts... it's a lot of work.)
Personally, I'm more concerned about the CAD files. Are they in a proprietary format? Are there open source CAD tools that can edit them? If not, it really isn't open source. For me, the tool chain matters hugely more than the components designed into the end unit. With the CAD files, you can redesign around parts you like better. I am astounded at the number of nominally open-source hardware projects that used closed-source cripple-ware CAD tools (ie: Eagle). At least two good open source alternatives to Eagle exists for ECAD: gEDA and KiCad. 3D mechanical cad, not so much, although I have hopes for FreeCAD.
I once had this debate on line with Lady Ada, calling Adafruit to task for not using open source ECAD tools. She said, and I quote directly and accurately: "Tools don't matter." Her myopia in this regard astounds me..
The only thing that makes her position defensible is that hardware designs have a much shorter life span than software designs. You can be very successful doing hardware having a short attention span, since the technology moves so fast. In fact, a short attention span probably helps minimize distractions. With software, you must take the long view or die -- how old is errno.h?