The first batch of viable mass-market hydrogen-powered cars is set to arrive on roads around the world in 2015 and Toyota is one of the companies leading the charge. Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai model, therefore, is likely to make just as big an impact as its first-generation Prius did – a car that introduced the world to mainstream hybrid cars.
However, it’s not the car itself that is grabbing headlines at the moment, but the Japanese car company’s decision to release nearly 6,000 patents to anyone who wants to use them, in an attempt to speed up the adoption of hydrogen-powered cars. It is expected that these patented technologies will be free to use by car manufacturers, parts suppliers and companies involved with hydrogen production until 2020, reports Yahoo Cars.
Taking a leaf out of electric car manufacturer Tesla’s book, which released a number of its own patents in June, this move could encourage the uptake of fuel cell-powered cars that could prove a much more viable everyday prospect for many car buyers than battery-electric models: Hydrogen fuel cell cars get around the problems of limited driving range and long charging times experienced by electric car owners and offer the possibility of carbon-neutral transport if the hydrogen used to fuel them is sourced using green energy.
Of the patented technology made freely available by Toyota to other car makers, 3,350 are related to the fuel cell software and 1,970 concern the fuel cell stacks themselves. Meanwhile, 290 relate to high-pressure hydrogen tanks and 70 revolve around the production of hydrogen itself.
By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly.
Explaining the rationale for releasing its hard-earned patents, Bob Carter, senior vice president at Toyota’s US automotive division told the Press Association: “We believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen.
“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.”
A press release has stated that in exchange for being able to use its patented technology Toyota will “request, but not require” that companies using its patents should share their own patents related to fuel cells too.