DEARBORN — Ford Motor Co. Thursday announced that it is offering competitors access to its electrified vehicle technology patents — a move it says is designed to help accelerate industrywide research and development of electrified vehicles.
Competitors now have access to more than 650 Ford patents on EV technology, from sensors to battery charging.
The patents would be available for a fee — unlike competitors Toyota and Tesla, who have opened their patents for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and for EVs, respectively, for free.
Ford says that last year, it filed for more than 400 EV patents, more than 20 percent of its patent application total for the year.
EVs and hybrids have been slow sellers in recent years, due to the falling cost of gasoline and, for pure EVs, what’s called “range anxiety” — the fact that despite the fact that the vast majority of auto trips are short, buyers want a car that can be driven for hundreds of miles between fillups, just in case.
Ford says that it is nonetheless hiring 200 more EV engineers this year, as its EV team moves into a new headquarters, Ford Engienering Laboratories, in Dearborn.
Ford currently offers six hybrid or fully electric vehicles — Ford Focus Electric, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, Ford C-Max Hybrid, Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.
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, http://www.autoharvest.org/ an automaker innovation and licensing marketplace. AutoHarvest allows members to showcase capabilities and technologies, then privately connect with fellow inventors to explore technology and business development opportunities of mutual interest.
“Ford helped launch AutoHarvest as a founding member to enable efficient and transparent technology licensing across the automotive industry and beyond,” said Bill Coughlin, president and CEO, Ford Global Technologies, which manages intellectual property for Ford.
At a conference two weeks ago in Dearborn, sponsored by the engineering technology developer Altair, Coughlin said Ford had looked at Tesla’s patents and decided it didn’t need to use any of the upstart EV maker’s technologies.