The top 10 patent filers for the automotive industry have been the same from 2007-16. This indicates their strong foothold on the market and also the fact that innovation in the automobile industry has been aggressive.
All the top 10 patent filers have increased their patent portfolio by 10X in the same time-frame. This hints top players are persistent innovators. This could be one of the factors in how the top players manage their top spots.
Ford and Hyundai’s performance is noticeable. Both have been growing their patent portfolios at a great pace. Hyundai’s patent portfolio has grown 30 times while Ford has grown 20 times since 2007.
Toyota is the top patent filer between 2007 and 2016. Below chart represents the patent filing activities by top automotive players at the USPTO:
Toyota (10362 US patents)
In ride-hailing services companies, Toyota has invested $600 million in Didi Chuxing, $50 million in May Mobility, $1bn in Grab, and $69 million in JapanTaxi. On Jan 20, Toyota invested $590 million in Joby Aviation, a company working on all-electric aircraft capable of taking off and landing vertically for the air taxis.
In autonomous vehicles, Toyota has invested $400 million in Pony.ai. It has partnered with Mometa to develop high definition mapping platform in China for autonomous vehicles. In its partnership with Subaro, Toyota is developing an electric SUV platform.
In-vehicle batteries, Toyota partnered with Chinese battery manufacturer CATL to develop, supply, and recycle new energy vehicle (NEV) batteries. It has also patterned with Panasonic to develop next-generation solid-state lithium-ion batteries.
Toyota is also building a new EV plant worth $1.2 billion in the Chinese city of Tianjin in a partnership with FAW Group. Toyota has also formed a joint venture with Chinese automaker BYD – BYD Toyota EV Technology – to design and develop BEVs from scratch. Both companies have 50-50 stakes in the new joint venture.
Below are some other noticeable deals by Toyota in recent years:
- In April 2019, Toyota teamed up with SoftBank Fund, Denso to invest $1 billion in Uber to create mobility services. Toyota also promised to invest $300 million to manufacture next-generation autonomous vehicles
- In March 2019, Toyota announced that they will invest $13 billion in the next five years in the US market. This is aimed to increase the production of hybrid versions of the RAV4 and Lexus ES in several plants like Huntsville, Alabama; Buffalo, West Virginia; Troy, Missouri.
- At CES 2019, Toyota Research Institute introducedP4 Automated Driving Test Vehicle. It is based on all-new fifth-generation Lexus LS flagship sedan and steering control technology.
- In November 2017 Toyota and Suzuki both did alliance in which Suzuki will be manufacturing Electric vehicles in India by 2020. Toyota will provide Technical support.
- In August 2017, Toyota and Mazda collaborated to invest $1.6 billion to build a new factory in the US for manufacturing Electric vehicles, connected cars, and self-driving cars.
- In June 2017, At an annual shareholder meeting, President of the Toyota Motor Corporation Akio Toyoda said that they will be spending 1 trillion yen ($9.08 billion) each year for R&D and they will be considering M&As for new automotive technologies, including self-driving technologies,
Ford (7809 US Patents)
- In July 2019, Ford and Volkswagen announced a new joint venture on electric and autonomous vehicles. Both companies will share hardware and IP. Volkswagen agreed to invest $2.6bn in Argo AI, a Ford backed self-driving startup and giving Ford access to its MEB platform. Due to its modularity, MEB platform can help Ford design multiple vehicles.
- In April 2019, Ford invested $500 Million in Electric vehicles based startup, Rivian. Apart from the investment, the companies have agreed to work together to develop an all-new, next-generation battery electric vehicle.
- In March 2019, Ford invested $900 Million in the new factory of autonomous vehicles and some advanced technologies like integrated AI, and connected vehicle. One more investment of $850 million in its electric vehicle production.
- In April 2018, Ford Motor and Mahindra did strategic allianceto leverage their mutual strength in the automotive space. In March 2018, they collaborated on multiple areas like connected vehicle projects, electric battery vehicles, development of compact sports utility vehicles.
- In January 2018, Ford announced that they will be investing up to $11 billion till 2023 for launching 40 Fully electrified vehicles.
General Motors (6568 US Patents)
- In Apr 20, GM and Honda announced a partnership to co-develop two new electric vehicles for Honda. In Dec 19, GM announced a $2.3bn joint venture with LG Chemical for producing EV battery cells.
- In March 2019, General Motors Invested $1.8 billion in manufacturing operations in the six States of the US.Out of $300 million is allocated for the manufacturing of the electric vehicle.
- In Feb 2019 General motor reveals that they are investing $275m (£213m) in a British technology startup, WEJO. General Motors are also taking 35% of the stake of the company.
- In May 2018, General Motors getting $2.25 billion of investment from Softbank for the autonomous vehicles. It is the world biggest technology fund which is being poured to dominate Google in the battle of the self-driving car business.
Honda (5927 US Patents)
- In October 2018, Honda invested about $2.75 billion in General Motors Co.’s self-driving car unit. This investment is done in two parts $750 million investment in GM cruise and $2 billion will be spent over the next 12 years for the deployment of the autonomous vehicle.
- In February 2017, Honda and Hitachi both collaborated for developing and selling electric motors for competing better in the highly specialized green car segment.
Explore Other Patent Statistics on US Automotive Industry
- Patent Filing Trends in the US Automotive Industry (2007 To 2018)
- Patent Filing In Sub Technological Areas of Automotive Technology
- Vehicle Control System: Patent Filing Trends and Top Patent Holders
- Ancillary Vehicle System: Patent Filing Trends and Top Patent Holders
- Vehicle Propulsion System: Patent Filing Trends and Top Patent Holders
- Overview of Foreign Players’ Patent Filing Activities in the US Automotive Market