Car industry patents rise by a fifth in five years as tech innovation drive gathers pace

Rebecca Smith
BMW led the way after filing 113 patents in 2016
BMW led the way after filing 113 patents in 2016 (Source: Getty)

The number of car industry patents has risen by a fifth in five years, as auto giants look to accelerate their efforts on developing electric and driverless cars.

According to commercial law firm EMW, 5,701 auto industry patents were filed last year, up on 4,727 in 2011. Last year's figure was a slight dip on 2015's 5,816 patents, looking at those filed with the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Traditional car manufacturers were the top filers last year though.

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Leading the way was BMW, which filed 113 patents last year, followed by Peugeot Citroen with 98 and Honda filing 78.

EMW said the traditional car giants were filing more patents as the likes of Google, Tesla and Uber, were challenging their traditional business model.

Driving innovation: The car giants that filed the most patents last year
BMW - 113
Peugeot Citroen - 98
Honda - 78
Audi - 72
Renault - 66
Volkswagen - 61

Mark Finn, principal at EMW, said:

Development in the automotive industry is growing ever more fast-paced in what was already a competitive field, as technology giants such as Uber and Google pioneer revolutionary technology in the sector.

Larger car manufacturers can use joint ventures with tech companies to help adapt to the rapidly changing landscape. Teaming up can give both the tech and car companies a competitive advantage over their adversaries, with sharing of ideas from different sector backgrounds.

Various partnerships have been established by car and tech firms to fuel innovation, particularly to make progress on driverless cars. Just this week, BMW announced Fiat Chrysler had joined its collaborative driverless project with tech firms Intel and Mobileye.

Intel boss Brian Krzanich said: “The future of transportation relies on auto and tech industry leaders working together to develop a scalable architecture that automakers around the globe can adopt and customise."

Meanwhile, a number of car companies have been announcing more targeted ambitions on the electric front. Volvo made a statement last month when it unveiled that it's going all-electric with new models from 2019.

Year Number of automotive patents filed
2012 4727
2013 5180
2014 5599
2015 5816
2016 5701

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