Elon Musk made a similar offer with Tesla's patents on electric vehicle technology last year. He had a similar objective: to promote the development of electric vehicle technology and help build a ubiquitous charging infrastructure.
Asked about the electric vehicles on Monday, Toyota's Carter said he still saw a place for them in the market but he believed hydrogen fuel cell cars make much more sense for most drivers.
"The weight of the batteries, the cost, the limited range and the long recharge times ... there are no quick solutions coming," he said, referring to some of the challenges facing electric cars. "For many consumers who find those hurdles a reason not to purchase, we think this vehicle is going to offer a good solution today."
Hatano, the auto analyst, said Toyota's offer might bring it other benefits too. If other companies design and develop fuel-cell vehicle technology based on Toyota's patents, the company's technology might become a widely used standard and that sets Toyota up for royalties from 2021 going forward, he said.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.