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Toyota opens patents to help save hybrid cars, but it won’t work

In an attempt to encourage the rest of the industry to make hybrid vehicles, Toyota announced that it is providing “nearly 24,000 licenses royalty-free” for its patents regarding electric components and systems to companies producing hybrid vehicles.

The move to keep hybrid vehicles relevant comes as the industry is massively shifting to all-electric vehicles and Toyota is falling behind in that transition.

Shigeki Terashi, Member of the Board and Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor, announced the new royalty-free patent licenses:

“Based on the high volume of inquiries we receive about our vehicle electrification systems from companies that recognize a need to popularize hybrid and other electrified vehicle technologies, we believe that now is the time for cooperation. If the number of electrified vehicles accelerates significantly in the next 10 years, they will become standard, and we hope to play a role in supporting that process.”

Over 5 years ago, Tesla also announced that it was opening its patents in an attempt to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles.

Tesla said that anyone who aims to produce an electric vehicle can use their patents in good faith.

While Toyota’s move might seem similar on the surface, the company does mention that its patents can only be used for hybrid and fuel cell vehicles – not all-electric vehicles:

“These are core technologies that can be applied to the development of various types of electrified vehicles including HEVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).”

That’s despite many patents being about components that can be used in all-electric (BEV) vehicles, likes batteries, electric motors, and controllers.

The automaker is also looking to offer fee-based technical support in the development of hybrid vehicles using their patents.

Electrek’s Take

I see what you are doing here Toyota and honestly, it won’t work.

Toyota has yet to bring an all-electric vehicle to market and they are clearly falling behind in the transition to all-electric vehicles.

They are hoping that other automakers will also stick to hybrid powertrains, which would justify their long-standing belief that hybrids are the way to go, but all-electric vehicles are already taking over some markets like Norway and crushing hybrid sales in several other markets.

Hybrid technology was always just a transitional step toward full electrification and Toyota needs to start looking at it for what it is.

If you are an automaker working on a new hybrid vehicle right now to be launched in the next few years, you are wasting your time. You should make that vehicle all-electric if you want it to have a chance as a long-term vehicle program.

Don’t fall into Toyota’s trap.

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