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Toyota isn't stopping at opening its patents, will sell hybrid tech to rivals, report says

Selling hybrid components and complete drivetrains to competitors could help finance its future electric car development.

Toyota has spent the last 20 years honing the Prius' Hybrid Synergy Drive tech into what it is today, and now other carmakers can buy that tech for their own products.


Toyota recently did something pretty unexpected. It announced that it would allow royalty-free use of thousands of its gasoline-electric hybrid patents, patents it has jealously guarded in the past. It did this to extend the life of hybrid technology in an increasingly electric world, but that's not where its plans end.

According to a report published Friday by Reuters, Toyota has plans to not only act as a manufacturer of whole cars and trucks but also as a Tier 2 supplier. That means that it will supply hybrid components and even entire hybrid drivetrains to rivals. Why would it do that? Well, in short, to save some cash on electrification.

See, Toyota has been lagging behind other companies in the development of fully electric vehicles. Catching up to the likes of Nissan and GM will require substantial amounts of cash for development of its own technology, but even more money will be needed to build a manufacturing infrastructure to support EV production.

"We anticipate that there will probably be very few automakers who use our patents to develop their own hybrids from scratch, so by using our system and our components, and offering our support, we can work together to develop these cars," said Shigeki Terashi, executive vice president for Toyota, in a statement to Reuters. Toyota didn't immediately reply to a request for further comment.

If Toyota can sell hybrid stuff to other car companies who want or need help in bringing down their corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) numbers and can't afford to spend the capital necessary to develop their own systems, then it won't have to dig quite so deeply into its own pockets.

Toyota is already equipping other manufacturers' vehicles with its hybrid tech. The (decidedly lackluster) Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid uses Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive tech, for example. Toyota will also supply hybrid tech to Suzuki, and the hot-rod hybrid Jimny that could likely result from that hookup will haunt our dreams forever.