Toyota to open electric patents to other carmakers

03 April 2019

3 April 2019

The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is costing manufacturers both time and money, especially with the need for a quick introduction to help lower CO2 levels.

With this in consideration, Toyota has announced two measures related to its patents and technical knowledge to further promote widespread use of electrified vehicles. The company is a leader in the hybrid market and has recently undertaken an EV project to ensure it stays relevant in a changing automotive landscape.

First, the Japanese manufacturer has announced that it will grant royalty-free licenses on nearly 24,000 patents it holds (including some pending applications) for vehicle electrification-related technologies. Second, Toyota will provide fee-based technical support to other manufacturers developing and selling electrified vehicles when they use Toyota’s motors, batteries, PCUs, control ECUs, and other vehicle electrification system technologies as part of their powertrain systems.

Ultimately, by granting royalty-free patents and providing technical support on its vehicle electrification systems, Toyota aims to help 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 recognise a need to popularise 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 ten years, they will become standard, and we hope to play a role in supporting that process.’

The royalty-free patents are advanced technologies found in electrified vehicles, particularly those used in hybrids, which have helped Toyota realise enhanced performance and cost reductions.

More specifically, the patents included are for parts and systems such as electric motors, power control units (PCUs) and system controls. These core technologies can be applied to the development of various types of electrified vehicles including hybrids, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs).

Together, Toyota will offer approximately 23,740 patents awarded over more than 20 years of electrified vehicle technology development. The grant period will start immediately and last through the end of 2030. Contracts for the grants may be issued by contacting Toyota and discussing specific licensing terms and conditions.

Toyota has already been offering 5,680 patents related to its FCVs since January 2015. Now, the company is adding approximately 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 fuel cell patents (bringing the total of fuel cell related patents to 8,060).

As for the fee-based technical support Toyota will offer, specifics include providing overviews of vehicle electrification systems, control guides, and detailed explanations of tuning guides for vehicles that will utilise its systems. The guidance that Toyota will provide, for example, includes helping other automakers to achieve high-level product performance in terms of fuel efficiency, output, and quietness fit for the vehicles they are working to develop. The services will be contract-based.

By offering both royalty-free patents and technical support for electrified vehicles, Toyota sees an opportunity to encourage the development and market introduction of electrified vehicles around the world. This is something it has long considered a top-priority management issue based on its strong belief that environmentally conscious vehicles will only contribute to the fight against climate change if they come into widespread use.