Toyota to Rivals: Take This Hybrid Tech and Build It

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
toyota to rivals take this hybrid tech and build it

On Wednesday, Toyota announced plans to offer royalty-free access to its cache of hybrid technology patents. While the automaker already licenses aspects of its Hybrid Synergy Drive to other automakers, the new strategy seeks to drastically expand the use of its systems as the world gears up for widespread electrification.

Toyota, cautious as ever, has been understandably hesitant to throw itself headlong into costly BEV development programs. It did have the foresight, however, to jump into hybrid technology earlier than most other manufacturers, and doesn’t want to see that edge lost as battery-only vehicles grow in popularity. Providing open access to the nearly 24,000 patents on hardware used in the Prius and Mirai could help the company stack the deck in its favor.

“We want to look beyond producing finished vehicles,” Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi, was quoted to have said by Automotive News. “We want to contribute to an increase in take up (of electric cars) by offering not just our technology but our existing parts and systems to other vehicle makers.”

After hoarding the Prius’ hardware for years and taking the lion’s share of the hybrid vehicle market, the time is apparently right for Toyota to share more openly. Costly investments in advanced technologies has encouraged the industry to cooperate more, something Toyota is particularly adept at.

“Based on the high volume of inquiries we receive about our vehicle electrification systems from companies that recognize a need to popularize hybrid and other electrified vehicle technologies, we believe that now is the time for cooperation,” Terashi said in the announcement. “If the number of electrified vehicles accelerates significantly in the next 10 years, they will become standard, and we hope to play a role in supporting that process.”

Toyota said it will make technical support available to help manufacturers reach performance goals with purchased vehicle electrification systems:

As for the fee-based technical support Toyota will offer, specifics include providing overviews of vehicle electrification systems, control guides, and detailed explanations of tuning guides for vehicles that will utilize its systems. The guidance that Toyota will provide, for example, includes helping other automakers to achieve high-level product performance in terms of fuel efficiency, output, and quietness fit for the vehicles they are working to develop. The services will be contract-based. More details will be provided to interested parties.

It’s a clever way to get around pure EVs (which Toyota lacks) and support the company’s own established hybrid tech. We’ll have to see how it plays out. If other automakers take a bite, which seems likely, the company could theoretically prop up hybrids with its own hardware. Not a bad place to be in the grand scheme of things.

[Image: Toyota]

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Apr 03, 2019

    Total BS. Hybrids (including Toyota's) have had their (20-year) day in the sun, but are now a dying species. Toyota is a day late and a dollar short on offering this technology. Almost everyone already offers a hybrid today, and they don't need Toyota's technology now. Frankly, I'm sure everyone who offers a hybrid has already studied Toyota's technology and found their own ways around the patents. Toyota's patents are worthless now. BEVs are only getting better, as are conventional ICEs, and hybrids are becoming the red-headed stepchild in the automotive family. Cheap gas doesn't help the case for hybrids, and neither does their wonky driveability. As for the Mirai - that turd needs to die, and only Hyundai is crazy enough to continue messing around with fuel cell vehicles.

    • See 14 previous
    • JimZ JimZ on Apr 05, 2019

      @JimZ "As such, Toyota’s patents are worthless." see my reply above. You have ZERO basis to make that claim. Hybrids have the same kind of motor/generator, inverter, high-power electronics, and battery as EVs do. There's likely a ton of s**t Toyota has patented that could be applicable to BEVs. but, in your mind, because they don't make any BEVs yet you're dismissing them based on nothing but your own bald-faced ignorance.

  • 993cc 993cc on Apr 03, 2019

    Pedant Mode ON. " the high volume of inquiries" - So are these inquiries three dimensional, or just really, really loud? Pedant Mode Off.

    • See 7 previous
    • JimZ JimZ on Apr 04, 2019

      @Featherston "The Millennial practice of improper use of a gerund drives me nuts! Something “needs documented,” " uh, that's not a Millennial thing, that's a Pittsburgh thing.

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