Toyota is hoping to stir competition in the hybrid and electric vehicle market by releasing thousands of patents for batteries and electric motors.
Or years, the Toyota hybrid has been the de-facto hybrid car. Only now do most carmakers seem to be catching up and offering hybrid powertrains on most of their car models. But Toyota isn’t happy with the current state of the world. They want more competition, more hybrids, and more EVs. So they’re going to make it happen by giving everyone access to their technology.
“The level of electrification technology required by global environmental regulations is becoming stricter year by year,” said Toyota Vice President Shigeki Terashi at a news conference in Tokyo earlier this week. He went on to say that Toyota plans to cooperate with more companies around the world in the quest for greater automotive electrification.
As per the Japan Times, Toyota is releasing 23,740 patents on electric and hybrid powertrains to anyone who cares to look. Their hope is to expand the market for hybrid and electric vehicles, which seems a little counterintuitive for a leading carmaker in both of these markets. Is Toyota taking a hit to their bottom line just so they can help save the planet?
Well, not exactly. Sure, opening up electric motor and hybrid patents will make it a lot easier for competing carmakers to copy Toyota’s technology and thus make hybrids or electric cars of their own, but Toyota sees the move as an actual profit generator.
The most likely beneficiary of free Toyota patents would be car manufacturers in China. As the Chinese government tightens emission regulations, Chinese carmakers are scrambling to implement electrified and hybrid powertrains. A whole bunch of free Toyota patents will make it easy to make batteries and electric motors on a scale never before seen.
And this, in turn, will make it easier for Toyota to source parts from China at a fraction of the cost they do now.
But don’t look at Toyota as the greedy capitalist that has somehow found a way to game the system. Yes, Toyota wins, but so does China, and most importantly, so does the atmosphere.