In an effort to help other automakers with their efforts towards building hybrid vehicles, Toyota has announced that they have opened up 23,740 hybrid technology patents to any company that wants them.
It’s no question that Toyota is the most influential automaker when it comes to hybrid vehicles. The Prius is the hybrid car for many people and was partly responsible for automakers making hybrids of their own.
With over 20 years of experience in the field, Toyota has a ton of patents in regards to its hybrid technology. So in order to “promote the further growth of electrified vehicle globally”, Toyota will provide these patents “royalty-free” until 2030.
Shigeki Terashi, Member of the Board and Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor, announced the new royalty-free patents:
“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. 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.”
This tactic might sound similar to how Tesla opened up its patents over five years ago.
However, Toyota’s decision is not purely based off good will. In addition to the open hybrid technology patents, Toyota will offer a “fee-based” technical support to those companies that use Toyota’s components and patents in the development of their vehicles.
The question now stands, how much good will these patents do today? If these patents were released 5-8 years ago, they might have been very helpful to companies. But given the fervor that automakers, new and old, have towards fully electric cars, I question how much use there will be from these patents.
The press release does not state that these patents can be used in full electric vehicles, only “HEVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV)”. Whether this means that none of the nearly 24,000 hybrid technology patents have any use in a battery electric vehicle (BEV), or Toyota prohibits the use of these technologies in BEVs is left to be seen.
However, given Toyota’s lukewarm attitude towards fully electric cars, it would not surprise me if it was the latter.
I do believe that the sharing of technological information is always for the better. So I will not criticize Toyota for allowing others to use these patents. Having a hybrid vehicle is definitely more beneficial than having a purely gasoline-powered vehicle. But it just seems that the giant Japanese automaker is doing everything in its power to keep hybrids relevant instead of helping with full electrification efforts.
What do you guys think of Toyota releasing their hybrid technology patents? Let us know down in the comments below.