Toyota just rained on Tesla's parade
Toyota has successfully stolen Tesla’s thunder by making all of its 5,680 patents relating to fuel cell technology royalty free. The patents will be available to automotive manufacturers and all related energy companies in an attempt to spark interest in the new tech.
Gone are the days when technology breakthroughs were carefully safeguarded behind a barricade of patents that would keep rivals from copying them. For tech companies (and seemingly vehicle manufacturers), it’s all about pushing for the propagation and adoption of innovative and novel technologies in the grand equation of making money and profits.
Toyota is following Tesla’s lead – Elon Musk’s innovative company freed its 200 technology patents relating to manufacturing electric vehicles (EVs), their battery packs and charging infrastructure technology earlier in June 2014. Toyota said yesterday it too would be making its fuel cell technology-related patents available royalty-free.
The Japanese automaker said that hydrogen production and supply patents will be available indefinitely, while any patents relating to fuel cell vehicle (FCV) technology will be available until 2020.
Senior vice president of Toyota Motor sales Bob Carter made the announcement at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show on Monday. He said the freeing up of the fuel cell technology patents is meant to “speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.”
Elon Musk said about releasing Tesla patents, “We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.”
IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.