Toyota said Wednesday it will give royalty-free access to its nearly 24,000 patents related to electrification technology and systems through 2030 in a move that aims to encourage rival automakers to adopt the low-emissions and fuel-saving technology.
Collectively the patents represent core technologies that can be applied to the development of various types of electrified vehicles, including hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles, Toyota said. This follows Toyota’s decision back in 2015 to offer 5,680 patents related to its fuel cell electric vehicles.
The Japanese automaker said it will also offer technical support — for a fee — to other manufacturers that are developing and selling electrified vehicles when they use Toyota’s motors, batteries, power control units, control ECUs and other vehicle electrification system technologies as part of their powertrain systems.
Toyota, noting the time, money and other resources necessary to develop “sustainable mobility,” said that opening up its patents will “further promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles, and in so doing, help governments, automakers, and society at large accomplish goals related to climate change.”
“Based on the high volume of inquiries we receive about our vehicle electrification systems from companies that recognize a need to popularize hybrid and other electrified vehicle technologies, we believe that now is the time for cooperation,” said Shigeki Terashi, member of the board and executive vice president of Toyota Motor Corporation . “If the number of electrified vehicles accelerates significantly in the next 10 years, they will become standard, and we hope to play a role in supporting that process.”
The patents run the gamut of what you might find in hybrid vehicles. Toyota is adding some 2,590 patents related to electric motors, 2,020 patents related to PCUs, 7,550 patents related to system controls, 1,320 engine transaxle patents, 2,200 charger patents and 2,380 additional fuel cell patents — bringing the total of fuel cell-related patents to 8,060.
The decision to open up thousands of patents comes at an interesting time for Toyota and the auto industry. Toyota popularized hybrid cars with the Prius. The company has sold more than 13 million hybrid vehicles globally. And in the past few years, automakers have followed suit in a more meaningful way than simply offering one hybrid model.
However, many automakers view hybrids as a bridge technology — a means to an all-electric end. Jaguar Land Rover, GM, Ford and others are all either selling or plan to sell a pure electric vehicle with more being added to their various vehicle portfolios every year. And as far as TechCrunch can tell, the patents that Toyota is offering aren’t related to an all-electric system.
It should be noted that this bridge is a long one; the transition from gas to hybrid to electric will take years if not decades for the traditional automaker. And the while the leap to all-electric vehicles is coming, some automakers are still sorting out their hybrid strategy.