News has come in from the International CES show in Las Vegas (the show formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show). It sounds more like a Detroit Auto Show than consumer electronics. Maybe the reason for the name change.
Toyota is opening the door to the hydrogen future for automobiles, making available thousands of hydrogen fuel cell patents royalty free. Announced at the 2015 International CES Show, this Toyota initiative is anticipated to spur development and introduction of innovative fuel cell technologies around the world.
Earl Nightingale developed the personal development industry back in the 50s and 60s. One of his recurring themes was the common sense of powering cars with hydrogen. Hydrogen is plentiful. The byproduct of “burning” it is non-toxic.
Well, Toyota has been working on hydrogen power and held a major press conference at CES.
[Aside: I’ve thought some about directions in trade press relative to how you might digest your news—especially how marketers want to capture that media to get their message out in a seemingly objective format. My first notice of this press conference was a notification on my old Tekzilla podcast icon. The new owners of Revision 3 and Tekzilla closed the podcast and fired the entire staff except for one young woman with obvious attributes designed to attract 20-something tech geek guys. (She’s also very smart, by the way.) Well, Shannon appeared on a Tekzilla Daily this morning looking very uncomfortable. She was talking about how great this news was as I thought, “Hmm, Toyota has been a sponsor of Tekzilla.” Sure enough, this special report on a dead podcast channel was sponsored by, you guessed it, Toyota.]
I am not in Las Vegas, so this news comes primarily from Toyota’s press release.
Toyota will invite royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 fuel cell related patents held globally, including critical technologies developed for the new Toyota Mirai. The list includes approximately 1,970 patents related to fuel cell stacks, 290 associated with high-pressure hydrogen tanks, 3,350 related to fuel cell system software control and 70 patents related to hydrogen production and supply.
“At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen,” said Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. “The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration between automakers, government regulators, academia and energy providers. By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.”
Toyota notes that it has a long history of opening its intellectual properties through collaboration, and was instrumental in facilitating the widespread adoption of hybrid vehicles by licensing related patents. This announcement represents the first time that Toyota has made its patents available free of charge and reflects the company’s aggressive support for developing a hydrogen-based society.
This Toyota initiative builds on previous commitments, including substantial financial support for the development of a hydrogen-fueling infrastructure in California and the northeastern United States. In May 2014, Toyota announced a $7.3 million loan to FirstElement Fuels to support the operations and maintenance of 19 hydrogen fueling stations across California. In November 2014, Toyota announced a collaboration with Air Liquide to develop and supply a phased network of 12 state-of-the-art hydrogen stations targeted for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The hydrogen fuel cell patents will be made available to automakers who will produce and sell fuel cell vehicles, as well as to fuel cell parts suppliers and energy companies who establish and operate fueling stations, through the initial market introduction period, anticipated to last until 2020. Companies working to develop and introduce fuel cell busses and industrial equipment, such as forklifts, are also covered. Requests from parts suppliers and companies looking to adapt fuel cell technology outside of the transportation sector will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.