Toyota Motor Corp is reportedly planning to offer royalty-free access to its hybrid-vehicle technology patents as early as this year.
The company currently holds roughly 20,000 active patents in the field out of which the latest ones covering motors, power converters and batteries will be made accessible, Nikkei Asian Review reported on Wednesday.
The decision to let go patents is aimed at retaining the relevance of hybrid vehicles as the broader industry moves towards pure electric vehicles, Nikkei said. The company, however, declined to comment ahead of a news conference scheduled at 0430 GMT is Nagoya, central Japan.
Toyota believes that hybrid vehicles provide a viable solution at a time when batteries for all-electric vehicles are sky-high.
Since debuting the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car, Prius, in 1997, Toyota has sold more than 12 million units of the car featuring the tech that twins a conventional gasoline engine and electric motor, saving fuel by capturing energy while coasting and braking and using it to power the motor.
On a global scale, hybrid vehicles account for three per cent of the overall cars sold globally, overshadowing the one per cent of all-battery EVs, according to LMC Automotive. In addition to this, Toyota vehicle accounts for more than 80 per cent of the hybrid vehicle market.
With tightening global emission regulations, global automakers have pledged to electrify their lineup in the coming years. Many of these automakers acknowledge that shifting to all-battery EVs from traditional internal combustion engines will take time due to the high cost of the required batteries.
Toyota pioneered the PHEV movement with the Prius in 1997.
Hence, with the current state of EV developments, Toyota believes that its hybrids, which returns nearly double the fuel efficiency than a gasoline car, are a cost-effective alternative due to their lower cost, lack of need for charging infrastructure and because they operate more or less like gasoline cars.
Alongside hybrid vehicles, Toyota is also betting on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as the ultimate zero-emissions vehicle, and as a result, it has lagged many of its rivals in marketing all-electric EVs.