Auto Industry Increases Alternative-Power R&D 182 Percent in Last Five Years According to Thomson Reuters Patent Analysis

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Toyota, Honda, Denso, General Motors and Panasonic Among Top 5 Patentees

PHILADELPHIA--Jan. 10, 2013:  The Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today released the results of its study of the global automobile industry's patent activity. The findings, which are featured inthe Thomson Reuterspaper" Auto Industry Sets Sights on Alternative Power ," detail a 182 percent increase in alternative-power-related patents filed globally since 2006, with Toyota, Honda, Denso, General Motors and Panasonic leading the way in alternative-power R&D.

Following are among key findings in the report:

  • 182 Percent Increase in Alternative Power Patents: Between 2006 and 2011, patent activity in the alternative-power space grew by 182 percent, more than any other technology area in the automotive industry, with a total of 14,977 unique inventions for the last year studied. 
  • Toyota Leads the Way in Alternative-Power R&D: In the study period, 1,901 unique inventions were from Toyota, followed by Honda, which posted 587 unique inventions; Denso, the Japanese auto components manufacturer; General Motors; and Panasonic, the manufacturer of the batteries that help power Toyota's Prius.
  • Vehicle Security Technology on the Rise: Patent activity in the vehicle security system space grew by 54 percent over the five-year study period, with a total of 5,777 unique inventions in the last year studied.
  • Transmission Research Shifts into High Gear: Patent activity in vehicle transmission system technology grew by 48 percent over the study period, with a total of 7,569 unique inventions filed in the last year studied.

"With stringent new fuel economy standards introduced in the U.S. that require global auto manufacturers to double their average mileage requirements, car companies have gotten very serious about alternative power," said Bob Stembridge, an intellectual property analyst at Thomson Reuters and author of the report. "The aggressive R&D efforts of some of the leading manufacturers suggest that consumer options for alternative power will grow considerably in the coming decade."

Data for this report were aggregated using Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index (DWPI(SM)) to identify global patent activity in the automobile industry. Within each category, researchers analyzed the total number of unique inventions (each invention was counted only once) issued in published patent applications and granted patents in 2006 and 2011. Results from both time periods were then compared to determine overall growth over the last five years.

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