Proterra opens up its portfolio of patents

The Proterra start-up is releasing its patents on the rapid recharging of electrical vehicles to accelerate development of the market.

Is it more interesting for a company to hold 100 % share of a small niche market or to be ready to fight with competitors on a much larger market? For 2-3 years, it's been clear that companies are choosing the second solution and are therefore releasing some of their patents to accelerate the development of a promising market. This was the case of Tesla in 2014 for recharging car batteries, Toyota in 2014 for fuel cells, or Daikin in 2015 for air-con equipment. 

Proterra is an American start-up that develops all-electric buses. In June 2016, the company had already sold more than 206 vehicles to 26 transport organisations in North America. Its technology is suited to heavy electric vehicles such as buses or trucks that run a lot and whose consumption is high. Charging a car does not require this level of power. There is a single-blade on the vehicle's roof which contains all the charging electrodes and then the components of the charging coupler that interfaces with this blade.

To accelerate the adoption of electric transport, Proterra announced end of June 2016 that it is releasing its patents covering rapid recharging technology. 

It wants to concentrate on the development of the vehicles themselves leaving free access to other companies to a technology which is not part of its core business or that of its customers. For example, a company that is developing charging infrastructures for automobiles could adopt the technology to recharge trucks or buses. 

The step to sharing patents could ease certain reluctancies of the world of diesel vehicles and expand the market. Proterra decided that it was better to hold 50 % of the transport market than 80% of the niche market of electric vehicles. 

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