Toyota to give royalty-free access to hybrid-vehicle patents

Toyota’s move to unlock its patents underlines its belief that hybrids are an effective alternative to all-battery EVs. (Supplied)
Updated 03 April 2019
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Toyota to give royalty-free access to hybrid-vehicle patents

  • The pledge by one of the world’s biggest automakers to share its closely guarded patents is aimed at driving industry uptake of hybrids
  • Hybrid vehicles account for around 3 percent of all vehicles sold globally, eclipsing the roughly 1.5 percent share of all-battery EVs

TOKYO: Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. will offer free access to its hybrid-vehicle patents through 2030, it said on Wednesday, seeking to expand use of the lower-emission technology even as the global industry shifts toward fully electric cars.
The pledge by one of the world’s biggest automakers to share its closely guarded patents, the second time it has opened up a technology, is aimed at driving industry uptake of hybrids and fending off the challenge of all-battery electric vehicles(EVs).
Toyota said it would grant licenses on nearly 24,000 patents on technologies used in its Prius, the world’s first mass-produced “green” car, and offer to supply competitors with components including motors, power converters and batteries used in its lower-emissions vehicles.
“We want to look beyond producing finished vehicles,” Toyota Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi told reporters.
“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.”
The Nikkei Asian Review first reported Toyota’s plans to give royalty-free access to hybrid-vehicle patents.
Terashi said that the access excluded patents on its lithium-ion battery technology.
Toyota’s move to unlock its patents underlines its belief that hybrids are an effective alternative to all-battery EVs, given a fuel efficiency roughly double that of gasoline cars, lower cost and that they do not need charging infrastructure.
Toyota vehicles account for more than 80 percent of the global hybrid vehicle market.
“Toyota has realized that they made a mistake by protecting their hybrid technology for years. This prevented diffusion” said Janet Lewis, head of Asia transportation research at Macquarie Securities.
“Toyota on its own can’t get key technology accepted, but if other companies use it, that offers the best chance of expansion,” she added.
Since pioneering the Prius in 1997, Toyota has sold more than 13 million hybrids, which twin a conventional gasoline engine and electric motor, saving fuel by capturing energy during coasting and breaking and using it to power the motor.
Hybrid vehicles account for around 3 percent of all vehicles sold globally, eclipsing the roughly 1.5 percent share of all-battery EVs, according to LMC Automotive.
Global automakers have pledged to electrify their offerings as a growing number of countries slash vehicle emissions by as much as half by 2030, but many say that shifting to fully electric cars will take time given high cost of batteries.
Lewis at Macquarie said automakers in China and Europe could be keen to access Toyota’s hybrid-vehicle patents as they look for lower-emission cars to sell in lower-tier cities where costly battery EVs are out of reach for many drivers.
Toyota is also betting on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) as the ultimate zero-emissions vehicle, and as a result, has lagged many of its rivals in marketing all-battery EVs.
In 2015, it said it would allow access to its FCV-related patents through 2020.


India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

Updated 19 April 2019
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India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

  • Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries
  • India said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”

NEW DELHI: India has suspended trade across its disputed Kashmir border with Pakistan, alleging that weapons and drugs are being smuggled across the route, as tensions simmer between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries and brought the two countries to the brink of war with cross-border air strikes.
On Thursday, India’s government, which is in the middle of a tough national election, said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency.”
It also said many of those trading across the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into zones under Indian and Pakistani control, had links to militant organizations.
The home ministry said trade would be suspended until a stricter inspection mechanism is in place.
The cross-border trade is based on a barter system, with traders exchanging goods including chillies, cumin, mango and dried fruit.
It began in 2008 as a way to improve strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad, who have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region.
The Indian Express newspaper said Friday that 35 trucks carrying fruit traveling from the Indian side of the border had been stopped after the government order.
Trade on the border has been suspended before, including in 2015, when India accused a Pakistani driver of drug trafficking.
The latest move comes after India withdrew “Most Favoured Nation Status” — covering trade links — from Pakistan after the February attack, which was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group.
Islamabad has denied any involvement in the attack.
India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made national security a key plank of his re-election campaign, pointing to the recent flare-up of violence as he battles the center-left opposition Congress party.
He is seeking a second term from the country’s 900 million voters in the mammoth election which kicked off on April 11 and runs till May 19. The results will be out on May 23.