Ford offers EV patents to rivals

Company is sharing technology to reduce R & D time and stimulate EV market growth.

Published: May 30, 2015, 12:00 AM
Updated: July 30, 2015, 7:48 PM

Ford Fusion Energi flowscreen - The comprehensive centre consoled display screen in the Ford Fusion Energi shows how the power is being used in the vehicle, and allows users to quickly get the information they need as the car is being driven.

Ford wants to be a leader in future of electric vehicles and is taking the first step by making its portfolio of electrified vehicle technology patents available, at a cost, to competitive automakers in order to accelerate industry-wide research and development.

In 2014, more than 20 percent of the patents Ford filed (over 400 of the 2,000 the company applied for all year) were for electrified vehicle technology. The company currently holds more than 650 electrified vehicle patents, with another 1,000 pending.

Ford currently offers six hybrid or fully electrified vehicles — Focus Electric, Fusion Hybrid and Energi (plug-in hybrid), C-Max Hybrid and Energi, and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid — so it has some of the more acclaimed electrified vehicles on the road today, but the company believes in promoting the rapid advancement of future inventions from the industry and thus is making its patents available to its competitors who are willing to “buy into” it.

“The way to provide the best technology is through constant development and progress,” said Kevin Layden, director, Ford Electrification Programs. “By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers.

“As an industry, we need to collaborate while we continue to challenge each other,” he added. “By sharing ideas, companies can solve bigger challenges and help improve the industry.”

Interested parties are urged to contact Ford’s technology commercialization and licensing office, or go through AutoHarvest – an automaker collaborative innovation and licensing marketplace Ford helped create.

AutoHarvest allows members to showcase capabilities and technologies, and 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.

Among the electrified vehicle patents available for purchase are:

Method and Apparatus for Battery Charge Balancing (patent No. US5764027), which deals with passive cell balancing (discharging a cell through a resistor to lower the state of charge to match other cells) to extend battery run time and overall life. This is the first invention to enable battery balancing at any time, instead of only while charging.

Temperature Dependent Regenerative Brake System for Electric Vehicle (US6275763), which deals with maximizing the amount of energy recaptured in a hybrid vehicle through regenerative braking in order to recapture more energy in order to extend driving range under electric power.

Driving Behavior Feedback Interface (US8880290), which deals with monitoring driver inputs such as braking and accelerating, and vehicle parameters including energy consumption to assess driving behavior. The feedback is used to improve driving behavior that may translate into better driving habits and fuel economy improvements, and can also be applied to non-electrified vehicles to improve driving habits in general.