Move over, Tesla: Ford opening up portfolio of electric-vehicle patents

Ford Focus Electric
Car companies don’t always play nice — but when they do, it’s usually over electric vehicles.

Just as Tesla did last year, Ford has announced that it will open its portfolio of electric-vehicle technology patents to competitive automakers to “accelerate industry-wide research and development.” As of this month, the Dearborn, Michigan brand owns more than 650 EV-related patents, all of which will be available for other manufacturers to mull over soon. Another 1,000 or so are currently pending.

“Innovation is our goal,” Kevin Layden, Ford’s Director of Electrification Programs, told Digital Trends. “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.”

Currently, Ford Motor Company offers six hybrid or fully electric vehicles: the Ford Focus Electric (pictured), Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, Ford C-Max Hybrid, Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

For such a large and competitive company, a move like this is quite rare. In an industry that sees foes fight tooth and nail for their slice of the market, it’s nice to see an automaker give up some control for the sake of the big picture — albeit at a cost. Unlike Tesla, Ford’s patents will be available for purchase, while Tesla’s were free and unrestricted.

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

Ford has also announced that it will hire an additional 200 electrified vehicle engineers in 2015 to support a newly dedicated facility.

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