Toyota share the love at CES 2015
And some patents too.
Perhaps taking a lead from Elon Musk’s open source policy at Tesla, Toyota has announced that it will freely share up to 6000 of its patents on hydrogen fuel cell technology in what is seen as a bid to drive the development of fuel cell cars. The announcement came as the world number one automaker displayed the Mirai hydrogen-powered car in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES 2015) where they were but one of a myriad of automakers displaying new models and connected car strategies. The patents covering every aspect of hydrogen fuel cell technology – including fuel cell stacks, high pressure tanks, software control systems and the generation of hydrogen itself – will be made available free of charge to anyone wanting them.
Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations at Toyota, who made the announcement said, “When good ideas are shared, great things can happen”. He also said that he believes that the first generation of fuel cell vehicles planned for launch over the next five years will still take an “unconventional collaboration” among carmakers, governments, power firms and researchers.
Public support for alternative fuel vehicles has been growing at a snail’s pace and whilst there seems to be support for electric cars in spite of the range anxiety, there are now many cities around the world that are actively adding recharging stations for electric vehicles. This is still not the case for hydrogen refuelling stations which you will be hard-pressed to find, even in Japan where the Mirai is already on sale. Toyota hopes to boost the number of refuelling stations dramatically by making the technology freely available.
Perhaps as a sign of the times, a total of ten automakers chose to exhibit their new technologies at the Las Vegas CES this year. German carmakers are particularly in evidence with Audi and BMW showcasing parking aids, collision avoidance devices and semi-autonomous driving systems. Audi chose the event for a publicity stunt, with their A7 driving the 550 miles from San Francisco to the show by itself with a cabin full of journalists. The car drove the passengers along the highways but the person in the driver’s seat took control when the vehicle approached towns and cities. In an announcement, Audi said that the ‘piloted’ driving system is almost ready to go into production.