Toyota makes thousands of fuel cell car patents royalty-free

Japanese carmaker Toyota has made thousands of its patents for fuel cell-powered cars royalty-free. Its senior vice president in the United States, Bob Carter announced the move last night in […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Japanese carmaker Toyota has made thousands of its patents for fuel cell-powered cars royalty-free.

Its senior vice president in the United States, Bob Carter announced the move last night in Las Vegas on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show.

Declaring it is possible that “competitors can also be collaborators”, the car boss said all 5,680-odd patents which Toyota solely owns for the electric car-related fuel cell technology will be royalty-free to speed up the launch of the cars and hydrogen refuelling stations.

The patents are behind the company’s new hydrogen fuel cell-powered car, the Toyota Mirai (mirai means ‘future’ in Japanese) going on sale at the end of 2015 for at least $57,500 (£38k). 

From the modest seven hundred units it expects to make in 2015, by the 2020s Toyota hopes to sell tens of thousands of the Mirai around the world.

Describing how the four-door sedan’s front wheels are driven by an electric motor, Carter said: “The electricity that powers that motor is made on-board, on-demand, as needed, by combining hydrogen gas with oxygen, producing zero emissions… other than water vapour.”

He said these patents include the key to starting an engine in sub-zero temperatures, which he called “frigid cold starting”, as well as a smaller, lighter and cheaper fuel cell “stack” and refuelling points.