Toyota gives away 24,000 patents to help other companies develop hybrids

Firm says mass release of patents will help other companies address demands of “time, money and resources” required for hybrids

Toyota is granting free access to almost 24,000 patents related to hybrids and electrified vehicles, with the aim of helping other manufacturers more easily develop such cars.

The 23,740 patents relate to numerous areas surrounding hybrid vehicles and electrification, including electric motors, power control units and system controls. Toyota says these systems can be applied to the development of conventional hybrids, as well as plug-ins, full EVs and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

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As one of the pioneers of petrol-electric hybrids, some of the patents date from as long as two decades ago, harking back to the introduction of the original Prius in 1997. Toyota opened over 5,000 patents up in 2015, but is now opening the doors for other manufacturers to access a further 2,590 royalty-free patents relating to electric motors, 2,020 for power control units, 7,550 system control patents, and 2,380 for hydrogen fuel cell tech.

The Japanese giant says as well as royalty-free access to the patents, it will also offer “fee-based technical support” to companies developing and selling electrified vehicles using Toyota batteries, motors and control systems. These technical support services will include “detailed explanations of tuning guides” for the company’s electrified systems.

Shigeki Terashi, Toyota’s executive vice president, said the decision to give royalty-free access to its patents was partly driven by “the high volume of enquiries we receive about our vehicle electrification systems from companies”, and that “we believe that now is the time for co-operation”. Terashi added that electrified vehicles look set to become “standard” in the next 10 years, and Toyota hopes “to play a role in supporting that process.”

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