A recent study conducted by the Germany’s Center of Automotive Management (CAM) at the University of Applied Scienses FHDW, has spotted a persisting trend in the automotive industry’s patents issued by carmakers: conventional internal combustion engines research has stagnated over the years, whereas research on the alternative (or shall we say the “new mainstream”) Hybrid and EV powertrains has moved to the leading position in the research volume.
“Patents can work as early indicators of technology and innovation trends and can provide clues to the technology strategies of the automakers,” said professor, Dr. Stefan Bratzel, who heads the research institute. The CAM research reveals some insights into the evolving priorities of the automotive industry. “The patent trends show that, in recent years, many carmakers have radically changed their technology focus in the powertrain area… They are intensely looking beyond the internal combustion engine for technical solutions in the areas of hybrid powertrains and electric mobility.”
To back it up with figures, the research found that as much as 85% of all new powertrain patents are issued in the fields of alternative engine technologies, with Hybrids having the biggest share. To put it into perspective: the researched 18 biggest global carmakers registered more than 57,000 patents in 2014, up 7% versus last year. More than quarter of them (26%) are accounted for Toyota, making it the world’s leading automaker in patenting.
This year Toyota has increased registered patents by 11% and opened over 5,680 fuel cell and related patents for royalty free use, including industry leading fuel cell technology used in new Toyota Mirai.
With this effort we hope that our research will help foster a shared awareness that companies should collaborate rather than compete when it comes to popularising socially significant technologies and products, which could also create momentum for the popularisation of FCVs, just like what we have seen for Hybrids.
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