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/ Created by Gottfried Schüll

The future of the automotive industry

Surge in electric drive patents

Düsseldorf, September 20, 2021 – The German automotive industry has ramped up its activity in hybrid and electric drive technologies considerably in recent years. This is according to a study by the German Economic Institute in Cologne (IW), which analyzed the change in innovation in the German automotive industry between 2010 and 2018. The overall number of patent applications increased by 35 percent during this period, those for hybrid or electric drive technology in contrast increased by almost 125 percent. A comparison of the types of drive in the study shows a clear trend from 2015 onwards: while the proportion of the automotive industry’s total patent output accounted for by the conventional powertrain declined rapidly, the electrified powertrain was able to increase its share substantially. At the three major car companies BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen, the number of patents for electrified drives was already higher in 2018 than for their conventional counterpart. The change in innovation is also evident among Germany’s five largest automotive suppliers, although the number of patents for the traditional combustion engine still predominated in 2018. The picture looks different for smaller suppliers: the IW authors report that change is evidently stagnating here. According to the study, an assessment of the development must also take into account the fact that the European Commission has proposed a ban on new combustion engines cars from 2035.

“The patent activity around electrified drives is an important signal of whether companies are prepared for the technology shift and whether they are helping to shape it,” says Gottfried Schüll, patent attorney and partner at Cohausz & Florack. “It is great to see that at least the large companies in the German automotive industry have been realigning themselves over the past decade and are intensifying their research in electrified drives. For smaller companies, change still remains a major challenge.”

Picture credits: navee – AdobeStock.com

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