Today, at the Consumer Electronics show, Toyota announced that it will share its patents for fuel cells, high-pressure hydrogen storage and fuel cell fueling systems at no cost to other automakers. This means that those automakers that wish to build fuel cell electric vehicles, which can be as much as three-times more impactful in meeting California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandates, now have it easy.
Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
Like Honda and Hyundai, Toyota has long been working on a marketable fuel cell vehicle. Part of the motivation for this, if not all, was that California and other aligned states have mandated that all automakers sell vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions. Interestingly, the CARB plan favors hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) over battery electric vehicles (BEVs). This is primarily due to FCEVs much longer distances between re-fueling and the much faster rate of refueling they provide. One can debate the logic in moving away from BEVs, but what cannot be debated is that the CARB plan puts BEVs at a disadvantage due to their slow-to-charge and relatively short range batteries.
Toyota ‘s Royalty-Free Patent Offer
Toyota will allow other “competing” automakers to use it 1,970 patents related to fuel cells and its 3,350 fuel cell patents related to electronic control of fuel cell systems. The automakers can use the patents at no cost for five years. Toyota has requested an in-kind allowance to use other automakers fuel cell patents, but has not made it a requirement. In addition, Toyota is allowing automotive suppliers and those that build hydrogen refueling stations royalty free patent usage. Toyota is even going so far as to offer those that want to use the patents for mass-transit (buses) and industrial uses like forklifts the free patent usage.
Tesla’s Offer Of Patent Usage
Earlier this year Tesla offered its patents to other automakers. However, the term “royalty-free” was not included in Tesla’s announcement. Most automakers share their patents. Toyota, for example, shares its hybrid car technology under licensing agreements. The Tesla announcement generated a lot of publicity, but no major automakers made any announcements off acceptance.
Hydrogen Is Despised by Some EVangelists
Although hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are local emissions-free just like battery electrics, many EV advocates are openly hostile to hydrogen. Draw your own conclusions as to why, or read their words on the subject. This new announcement by Toyota will likely not make it more loved by that crowd.
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