After Tesla Motors Inc, Now Toyota Opens Patents

Tesla Motors released its patents to the world last year, and now it seems like Toyota has taken a cue from the Palo Alto-based EV manufacturer. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday, Toyota announced that it is also opening its technology to spur hydrogen fuel cell adoption.

Who can use Toyota’s patents?

Toyota released around 6,000 patents, out of which nearly 2,000 are related to fuel cell stacks, over 3,000 are for software, and another 290 are associated with hydrogen tanks and storage. Previously, Toyota licensed its patents for the hybrid drivetrain, but for the first time, the company is offering them royalty-free and opening them up for other industries.

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Toyota will allow the use of its hydrogen fuel cell patents to automakers which intend to manufacture and ship fuel cell vehicles. Further, the technology will be available to fuel cell parts suppliers and energy companies which set up and operate fueling stations through the initial market introduction period and expect to operate until 2020.

Toyota has also made available these fuel cell patents to the companies that are working to develop and launch fuel cell buses and Industrial equipment as well, such as forklifts. Requests to use the patents outside the transportation sector will have to get their applications evaluated on a case by case basis.

Objective similar to that of Tesla

First-generation hydrogen vehicles, which are expected to debut sometime between this year and 2020, will be crucial in many ways and will need the support of automakers, government regulators, academia and energy providers to be a success, said Bob Carter, senior vice president of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA. Toyota understands that more players in the hydrogen vehicle segment will advance the infrastructure, and the companies at the base are most likely to benefit from this. The offer from the Japanese firm is open until the end of 2020.

Last year Tesla hogged the limelight when it opened all of its patents in a first-of-its-kind move, especially for an automobile start-up like Tesla. A probable reason behind Musk’s altruistic move could be that the super genius CEO wants to avoid the collapse of the nascent start-up company, as other electric car makers which debuted around the same time could not do much and were scrapped altogether.