Toyota to let rivals use patents for hydrogen fuel cells

2015-01-06 06:59

Toyota will make its patents for hydrogen fuel cells available to competitors for free in an attempt to spur the market for cars that use the technology.

The offer comes as Toyota prepares to begin selling the first commercially marketed fuel cell car, the Toyota Mirai, said Bob Carter, a Toyota senior vice president in the US, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday.

The company’s 170 patents for hydrogen fuel-cell filling stations will be made available for free without limitations through at least 2020.

While other car makers are highlighting their self-driven and networked cars, Toyota focused exclusively on hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Toyota expects to build only about 700 of the cars in 2015, Carter said, but by the 2020s the number could be in the tens of thousands.

The Japanese car maker has been working on hydrogen fuel cell technology for about 20 years, absorbing high investment costs along the way. The technology, which converts hydrogen into electricity, is viewed with scepticism by a large part of the rest of the car industry.

The cars would emit only harmless water vapour.

It is not the only case of a company making its patents available to spur growth in a particular market. The electric car maker Tesla has taken a similar tactic.

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