Toyota MiraiToyota has shocked the CES 2015 tech show with a future car freebie – it’s made thousands of hydrogen fuel cell patents royalty-free.

Filed during the development of the Toyota Mirai – the world’s first affordable hydrogen fuel cell car – nearly 5,700 patents will now be free for rival car companies to use.

Toyota hopes the move will help accelerate the rollout of hydrogen fuel cell cars.

The initiative is similar to one Toyota made with hybrid cars, where it made patents available for rival brands and suppliers to use. This is the first time it’s made them free of charge though, “and reflects the company’s aggressive support for developing a hydrogen-based society”.

Senior vice president of automotive operations Bob Carter added that “the first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration between automakers, government regulators, academia and energy provider.

“By eliminating traditional corporate boundaries, we can speed the development of new technologies and move into the future of mobility more quickly, effectively and economically.”

More details will be released about how to apply to use a Toyota hydrogen fuel cell in the coming weeks; the royalty-free licences will last until the end of 2020.

Toyota adds that it will ask other companies to share their own fuel cell patents on a royalty-free basis, but will not require this. It hopes goodwill and the greater good will see the initiative shared.