The company says that it has 650 patents related to electric vehicles and around 1000 EV patents pending approval. According to Ford, in 2014 around 20 percent of its 2000 patent applications were related to electrified vehicle technology.
Unlike Tesla and Toyota, who opened up their electric and hydrogen fuel-cell patents, respectively, Ford's patents won't be free to use. Ford says that interested parties will need to pay a fee. A Ford spokesperson told Automotive News that the fee varies per patent, with "some in the hundreds and some in the thousands".
Among the patents being made available include ones for improving regenerative braking efficiency based on the ambient temperature, charge balancing to improve battery life, and driver behaviour monitoring systems.
The company currently makes six electrified cars — hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion (Mondeo), C-Max and Lincoln MKZ, plug-in hybrid variants of the Fusion (Mondeo) and C-Max, and an all-electric Focus — but none of them are on sale in Australia.
The move by Ford follows similar manoeuvres by Tesla and Toyota. In the middle of 2014, Tesla got the ball rolling by making its entire patent library open source, with all its technology available for free to all interested parties who use it "in good faith".
Toyota was next up to crease when, at CES at the beginning of 2015, it announced that it would make its 5680 hydrogen fuel-cell-related patents available for royalty-free use. The royalty free period is currently set to end in 2020 or whenever fuel-cell technology has made it past its "critical development stage".
Ford also used today's patent announcement to reveal that it will be adding around 200 engineers to its electric vehicle laboratory.