Toyota Giveaway Its Hydrogen Fuel-cell Patents: Some Quick Facts

Japanese automotive giant “Toyota” is giving royalty-free Intellectual Property (IP) access to its competing firms to allow fuel-cell technology to flourish. Though the move reflects company’s aggressive support for developing a hydrogen-based society, the move is hardly altruistic. By being more generous with its IP, Toyota will scale up the market for its fuel cell cars, will keep itself at the center of the ecosystem and sooner create an infrastructure for distribution of hydrogen, which fuel cells burn to make electricity.

In a statement – Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. Bob Carter asserted that the success of the first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would require concerted effort and unconventional collaboration between automakers, government regulators, academia and energy providers. But most critical of all would be eliminating traditional corporate boundaries and it seems like Toyota’s motives are similar to Tesla’s.

Toyota had launched its first fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai in California in Nov 2014 and many of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are in pipeline between 2015 and 2020.

Quick Facts:

Toyota Fuel-cell Patents: Break-up

Total Patents: 5650

Of the total

  • 1,970 patents are related to fuel cell stacks;
  • 290 are associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks;
  • 3,350 are related to fuel cell system software control; and
  • 70 patents are related to hydrogen production and supply

Royalty-free Patent Availability

Until 2020- Close to 5580 fuel cell patents around the actual cars

For unlimited time – 70 patents around hydrogen production and supply

Toyota’s first fuel cell vehicle: The Mirai

Launched in California in Nov 2014 at a price tag of approx. $60,000, this car uses hydrogen and air to create electricity and power the vehicle

Electric charging station cost vs. hydrogen station cost

Electric charging stations are relatively cheap (costs thousands of dollars) while installing hydrogen stations costs whopping $1-2M

Immediate beneficiaries of Toyota’s patents 

  • General Motors
  • Honda Motor

Elon Musk’s comment: fuel-cell technology is impractical

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