Ford is taking a leaf out of Tesla’s playbook, revealing this week that it will make its patents on electric vehicle technology available to all-comers.
The news follows an announcement from Tesla founder Elon Musk in June last year, declaring that a wall of patents at the company’s headquarters had been cleared off “in the spirit of the open source movement”.
Some months later, Toyota announced that it too would share a number of key technology patents, specifically those related to hydrogen fuel-cell systems.
Toyota’s offer comes with an expiry date, however, with the global giant confirming that rivals will have until 2020 to make the most of its 5600 patents on hydrogen technology.
But, while Tesla and Toyota will make their patented research available to any and all interested parties for free, Ford will make its patents available for an undisclosed fee.
“To access Ford’s patents and published patent applications, interested parties can contact the company’s technology commercialization and licensing office, or work through AutoHarvest - an automaker collaborative innovation and licensing marketplace,” the company said in a statement today.
Ford is a founding member of AutoHarvest, which means that while it is prepared to share its discoveries with rivals keen to enter the EV market or build on their existing technologies, it will not be passing on the opportunity for profit.
Ford says it has more than 650 patents on electric vehicle technology, along with a further 1000 patent applications.
Patents: A Sample Of Ford’s Booty
Below are examples of the patents that Ford will make available for licensing.
Method and Apparatus for Battery Charge Balancing, patent No. US5764027
The patent covers passive cell balancing: discharging a cell through a resistor to lower the state of charge to match other cells. This innovation extends battery run time and overall life. This is the first invention to enable battery balancing at any time, instead of only while charging, and it enables the use of lithium-ion batteries in electrified vehicles. It was invented long before lithium-ion battery-powered vehicles became commonplace – truly ahead of its time.
Temperature Dependent Regenerative Brake System for Electric Vehicle, patent No. US6275763
The technology works to maximize the amount of energy recaptured in a hybrid vehicle through regenerative braking. By improving the interplay between normal friction brakes and regenerative braking during stopping at certain air temperatures, a driver is able to recapture more energy than previously possible, helping the motorist drive farther on a charge.
Driving Behavior Feedback Interface, patent No. US8880290
The patent provides a system and method for monitoring driver inputs such as braking and accelerating, and vehicle parameters including energy consumption to assess driving behavior. The feedback can be used to coach future driving behavior that may translate into better long-term driving habits and improve fuel economy. This technology also has enabled drivers of non-electrified vehicles, such as a Ford Focus, to develop better driving habits.