Toyota to make secret hybrid tech open access until 2030

3 Apr 2019

A 2019 model hybrid Toyota Prius. Image: Toyota

In a bid to speed up the development of hybrid cars, Toyota is opening its vault to allow developers use its patents for free until 2030.

In the transition to fully electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid vehicles are seen as the most environmentally friendly way to gradually ween ourselves off the internal combustion engine. However, the vast majority of cars being sold remain powered exclusively by fossil fuel.

With the aim of changing this, Toyota has announced that until 2030 all of its hybrid vehicle technology will be made open source, allowing any developers or manufacturers to adopt it into their cars without having to pay royalties.

According to the BBC, the company hopes this will speed up the promotion of hybrid cars among manufacturers, with the expectation that almost 24,000 various technologies will be licensed out.

In a statement, Toyota’s executive vice-president Shigeki Terashi said: “Based on the high volume of inquiries we receive about our vehicle electrification systems from companies that recognise a need to popularise hybrid and other electrified vehicle technologies, we believe that now is the time for co-operation.”

In particular, Chinese auto manufacturing newcomers are expected to be very interested in accessing the patents, with the country aiming to clean up its dirty image as a major polluter and become a world leader in EVs within five years.

Hydrogen-fuelled cars

This isn’t the first time that the Japanese auto giant has lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding its technology. In 2015, Toyota announced the release of 5,680 patents relating to the development of hydrogen-fuelled cars, also to speed up the development of this technology.

So far, hydrogen car uptake has been significantly lower than EVs and hybrids with the infrastructure to handle the pumping of hydrogen fuel limited to just a few test locations, mostly in Japan.

However, slowly, this appears to be changing with Green Car Reports revealing that a Chinese start-up called Grove Hydrogen Automotive plans to introduce a new hydrogen-powered SUV in the country later this year.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic