Ever since Tesla announced that it was opening up all its patents for other automakers to use as "open source", the trend as been for other OEMs to follow suit .
Most recently from CES 2015, Toyota offered its 5,000+ fuel cell patents to anyone willing to follow them down the alternate propulsion route.
On Thursday, Ford got into the game...kinda.
Ford says that it "is offering competitors access to its electrified vehicle technology patents – a move to help accelerate industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles."
And while there wasn't a (*) asterisk at the end of that statement, there probably should be, as later in the press release we find this note, "...patents (are) available for competitors to purchase."
So, not really offering them up fully in the spirit of the common good and advancement of the electrification of the automobile; more like in the spirit of trying to make a little extra money. Still, for an OEM looking to enter the field of extended range vehicles, there may be an opportunity to build on Ford's current technology.
“Innovation is our goal. The way to provide the best technology is through constant development and progress. By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers.” - Kevin Layden, director, Ford Electrification Programs.
In total, Ford has made some 2,000 patents in 2014, although only 400-odd of them were electrified vehicle technology..
“As an industry, we need to collaborate while we continue to challenge each other,” said Layden. “By sharing ideas, companies can solve bigger challenges and help improve the industry.”
Ford did not disclosure pricing on all (or any) of the patents, but a representative says that they range from hundreds of dollars to some in the thousands.
Ford notes three of the patents current available to purchase:
- 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.