Toyota to allow free access to nearly 24,000 hybrid vehicle patents

04, Apr. 2019

NAGOYA, Kyodo - Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it has allowed royalty-free access to nearly 24,000 patents for its hybrid vehicles, seeking to become a “supplier” of low-emission technology as the industry adopts stricter emissions regulations.

Toyota hopes that opening up its technology covering motors and batteries to other companies will enlarge the global market of electrified vehicles, in particular for the gasoline-electric hybrids, a field the Japanese auto giant leads with its Prius vehicles that were first released in 1997.

The company will provide until the end of 2030 around 23,740 patents related to electrification technology, or nearly all of its licenses used for hybrids, including around 2,590 for motors and 7,550 for system controls.

The technologies for motors and batteries are key components of electric and hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles, and Toyota's latest move is expected to increase their supply and help the company cut costs in developing such vehicles.

“We will become a supplier of electrification technology,” Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi said at a press conference in Nagoya, a central Japan city near Toyota headquarters. “The level of electrification technology required by global environmental regulations is becoming stricter year by year.”

But it remains uncertain whether the use of Toyota patents will be widespread as the carmaker hopes. Toyota has offered patents related to its fuel-cell vehicles from January 2015 but it has only led to a dozen contracts.

The nearly 24,000 patents include those on the fuel-cell vehicles that have already been made available.

Free access will not be allowed to technology related to electric vehicle batteries Toyota jointly develops with Panasonic Corp., the company said.

Toyota, which has globally sold 13 million units of hybrid vehicles, had previously kept its hybrid-related technology under wraps but now hopes it will be used in a wide range of models, including trucks and buses.

“We will not lose competitiveness as long as we make progress in our technology,” Terashi said.

Chinese manufacturers are seen as likely to be interested in the hybrid technology as the world's largest auto market by volume also moves to implement stricter fuel economy regulations.

The Japanese carmaker also said it will provide fee-based technical support to other manufacturers developing and selling electric vehicles by using Toyota's motors, batteries and other technologies.

Fully electric vehicles still face such challenges as production costs and battery capacity before their full-fledged introduction. (Kyodo)