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Toyota inviting royalty-free use of ~5,680 hydrogen fuel cell patents

At CES, Toyota announced that it will invite royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel cell related patents held globally, including critical technologies developed for the new Toyota Mirai. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply.

The announcement covers only fuel cell-related patents wholly owned by Toyota. Patents related to fuel cell vehicles will be available for royalty-free licenses until the end of 2020. Patents for hydrogen production and supply will remain open for an unlimited duration. As part of licensing agreements, Toyota will request, but will not require, that other companies share their fuel cell-related patents with Toyota for similar royalty-free use.

The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration between automakers, government regulators, academia and energy providers. By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.

—Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA

Toyota has in the past opened its intellectual properties through collaboration, and facilitated adoption of hybrid vehicles by licensing related patents. Today’s announcement represents the first time that Toyota has made its patents available free of charge and reflects the company’s aggressive support for developing a hydrogen-based society.

This Toyota initiative builds on previous commitments, including substantial financial support for the development of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure in California and the northeastern United States. In May 2014, Toyota announced a $7.3-million loan to FirstElement Fuels to support the operations and maintenance of 19 hydrogen fueling stations across California. In November 2014, Toyota announced a collaboration with Air Liquide to develop and supply a phased network of 12 state-of-the-art hydrogen stations targeted for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The hydrogen fuel cell patents will be made available to automakers who will produce and sell fuel cell vehicles, as well as to fuel cell parts suppliers and energy companies who establish and operate fueling stations, through the initial market introduction period, anticipated to last until 2020.

Companies working to develop and introduce fuel cell busses and industrial equipment, such as forklifts, are also covered. Requests from parts suppliers and companies looking to adapt fuel cell technology outside of the transportation sector will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Companies interested in Toyota’s fuel cell-related patents will negotiate individual contracts with Toyota. Additional details, including licensing terms and application process, are available upon request.

Comments

HarveyD

Way to go Toyota...
The same should be done with all EV batteries patents.

Lad

HarveyD:

Toyota doesn't do this because they love you. They are motivated by bottom line profits and have a reason; what do you think it is? I suspect they want to move hydrogen mainstream and need a hydrogen infrastructure. Not all about the H2 car is bad; they are basically an EV with an onboard complicated experiment called a fuel cell. Throw out the complicated FC stuff, including the fuel cylinder bomb, add batteries and you might have a decent and safe EV for the roads.

Mike999

If anyone should know about the rapid progress in Solid State Batteries it should be Toyota. And yet they continue to see the "bomb on wheels".

Here is a clear case where the Board of Toyota should have a CLIMATE SCIENTIST helping guide the CEO to make decisions for the SURVIVAL of the Japanese People and the Human Race.

There is no sane reason to spend even one cent in a hydrogen( methane ) auto transport solution when we face a Global Warming World War III of negative externalities, unless the CEO is being Bribed or Extorted. Either way the Japanese Government should be Investigating.

sd

Maybe they have decided that the best use of their fuel cell patents is good publicity.

SJC

This is GREAT news, but quite a surprise. It should advance fuel cells for automobile use dramatically. Way to go Toyota!

ToppaTom

Generally things are worth what people are willing to pay.

electric-car-insider.com

I would normally be enthusiastic about any move toward open technology but open "until 2020" is a very short timeframe, especially considering the current state of the industry.

Without a compelling use case, it's a pretty unexciting announcement. Pity the company who takes Toyota up on their offer, only to see dismal sales as consumers quickly figure out that electricity, at $0.12 kW, $1 per gallon equivalent, is a better deal than H2 at $13.50 per kg.


SJC

Wait until the EV owners find out they have to pay road taxes when they register each year and sooner or later they have to replace the whole battery pack. TCO, Total Cost of Ownership. Maybe they figured that out, this is why EVs are not selling by the millions each year.

GasperG

Maybe the message is "We hit the wall with FC, may someone else make a good use of it if he can" ;)

mahonj

5680 is a lot of patents and a lot of drudgery to go through them all. I wonder how many "main" patents there are and whether Toyota are actively promoting them ?

clett

Two thoughts spring to mind.... first, Toyota may be thinking they won't be able to build a H2-refuelling network all by themselves, so would like to remove as many obstacles as possible to other manufacturers to produce H2-fuelled vehicles. Second, perhaps the value of fuel cell patents is now so low, given the beating H2 technology has taken (and will continue to take) from lithium ion and its successors, that they can at least gain some benefit from their expensive programme by being able to say "At least we tried" and take some credit / positive press for that.

electric-car-insider.com

Unless you believe, @SJC, that EV drivers will pay higher taxes than drivers of oil-burning cars, the tax issue is a moot point. Currently purchasers of zero emission vehicles are strongly incentivized to make the effort to adopt a new technology which does not have the negative health and security consequences of burning fossil fuels. Do you really think that will reverse soon?

Although you love to float the canard of battery replacement, where is the evidence that this is a TCO problem? In the meantime, I'm happy to put the $1,500 a year I'm saving in the bank.

With an 8 year warranty, I'll be at least $12,000 ahead by the time I need to think about batteries. Considering the replacement cost of a Leaf battery is $5,500 today, and likely cheaper in 8 years, it seems a pretty safe bet.

SJC

While you are promoting $1 per gallon equivalent electricity, mention the other costs. If you don't, you are misleading.

electric-car-insider.com

Please do mention the other costs, SJC. Although I have three EVs in the household, I seem to have overlooked them.

Oil changes? Nope.
Tune ups? No.
Smog check? Thankfully no.

$7,500 tax credit? Yes!
$2,500 rebate check? Yes!!
HOV lane sticker? Absolutely!

Better drive experience? Much better!
No tailpipe emissions? Priceless.


sd

I really doubt that there patents are worth much other than the goodwill that Toyota hopes to gain. All of the car companies have been working on this for a long time and probably have more patents than they know what to do with. Fuel cells have been worked on since 1838 (177 years)! Talk about a technology that has taken a long time to become commercially available. In 1959, Allis Chambers (remember them?) introduced a fuel cell tractor.

SJC

I advocate that all car owners look at total cost of ownership. You are constantly misleading by saying $1 per gallon equivalent electricity.

Roger Pham

Good point, SJC.
With car battery at $400 per kWh of capacity and can be charged 2000 times from 100% to 20%, each kWh stored by the battery will cost 400/2000/.8 = $0.25. Adding to this $0.12 the cost of grid electricity divided by 0.85 charging efficiency = $0.12/.85 = $0.14 per kWh + $0.25 = $0.39 / kWh that can travel 3.5 miles will give $0.11 per mile.

Meanwhile, an ICEV capable of 30 mpg and $2.00 per gallon will cost $0.067 per mile. If gasoline cost will rise to $3.00, the fuel cost per mile will be only $0.10 per mile. The gas tank cost is negligible and does not wear out.
An HEV with 50 mpg and gasoline at $2.00/gal will cost only $0.05 per mile.

clett

"The gas tank cost is negligible and does not wear out."

But the engine and gearbox do, with big bills common later in the ICE life, not to mention their servicing costs over the years. These should be factored into any comparison of ICE/EV running costs.

Roger Pham

@clett,
Correction to above:
An HEV with 50 mpg and gasoline at $2.00/gal will cost only $0.04 per mile. That's only a little over a third of the energy cost per mile of a typical BEV. HEV's battery pack will last the life of the car, while HEV's have very few repair or maintenance costs. Oil change is every 10,000 miles, spark plugs change every 120,000 miles and can all be done at home. No brakes service, no transmission service, no alternator replacement, no water pump nor timing belt nor accessory belts replacement ever needed. VERY LOW FUEL COST AND AMINTENANCE COST.

With future synthetic fuel from renewable energy costing around $3.00 a gallon, the fuel cost per mile for a 50-mpg HEV will be only $0.06 per mile, still half of current BEV's energy cost per mile, while no CO2 emission. If and when battery cost will be halved, an HEV will still retain a slight energy cost advantage.

SJC

If an engine and transmission rebuild costs $10,000 after 200,000 miles but a Tesla pack costs $20,000 after 100,000 miles, all the oil changes don't really make much of a difference.

People look at resale value, this is why Kelly Blue Book has been important for decades. I looked at the price of a Ford Fusion EV, two years old and they sell for $16,000 with 20,000 miles. The car sold for $40,000 two years ago.

HarveyD

Since liquid fuels and ICEVs other operation cost will go up but electrified vehicles purchase cost, battery and clean elctricity cost will go down, the relative total operation or total ownership cost will soon be in favor of EVs.

ICEVs will then be phased out. A few will be stored in museums for future generations to see.

SJC

Correction:
I looked as used Focus EVs. A Fusion EV would be nice, but it might suffer a similar resale value reduction.

electric-car-insider.com

SJC, your comparison of "what they used to cost" is bogus on it's face. When the Ford Focus Electric was first released, it had an MSRP of $45,000. It now has an MSRP of $29,170, and a TrueCar estimate of $28,649. From which you can subtract between $10,000 to 12,500 in California, Georgia and a few other states. Subtract $7,500 anywhere in the US. So about $15k - $18 for a brand new premium trim level Focus.

If you lease it, subtract at least $7,500 from the $15,000 lease cost. TCO? About $160 per month. Much less if you save extra money on your utility bill by going to the Time of Use rate like I did (I saved $100 per month on average - far more than my electric car fuel bill).

So, tell me again how this is more expensive than a gas car?

A Focus Titanium is $28,000 with the exact same configuration. Plus a couple hundred bucks a month for gas. No HOV sticker. No $2,500 rebate check. Pay for oil changes, tuneups.

All of the maintenance on a modern ICE can be done at home Roger? Really? I think you've revealed your hand amigo. Go fish.

Roger Pham

@ECI,
Sorry, I don't understand your last statement.
The engine of the Prius Gen 3 is so simple that there isn't much to be done. No alternator, no starter, no timing belt, no belt-driven water pump nor A/C compressor, no distributor, no transmission to service. No accessory belt to replace.

Just oil change every 10,000 miles, air filter change every 30,000 miles, coolant change every 100,000 miles, and spark plug change every 120,000 miles. O2 sensors, EGR valve and valve switch, air flow sensor, etc can be easily replaced when the engine light turns on and the OBD2 readout indicate so...etc All can be done at home.
The engine and the hybrid battery will last to 300,000 miles.

electric-car-insider.com

Roger, I believe you're well meaning. But to say that modern ICEs can be serviced at home, as if that's practical for most people, is really pretty silly. Some people are capable and motivated, sure. Some people don't value their own time, ok. But the percentage of the population that has the knowledge, skill, tools, and interest is small and getting smaller. Even if you do your own maintenance, that's no comparison to a typical EV, that needs almost no maintenance other than tires, ever.

- a former professional auto technician.

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