The number of electric vehicle (EV) patents has gone up all across the world, while fossil fuel ones have registered a rapid decrease in the last five years – a sign that manufacturers are taking seriously the decision made by governments to phase out the sale of new fossil fuel cars from 2030.
Data from intellectual property law firm Mathys & Squire has shown that in the last year 14,000 patents for EV technology were submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) – a 59 per cent increase compared with the 8,794 that were filed in 2016.
The number of patents for fossil fuel vehicles has instead slumped by 19 per cent, from 30,499 to 24,801.
Despite the jump in patented technology, EVs are still far more expensive than fossil fuel cars. According to the law firm, in the UK the cheapest EV is at £19,795, while consumers can get a new petrol car for £7,995.
“There is still a great deal of research to be done to make choosing an electric car an easy choice for every consumer,” said Mathys & Squire’s partner Sean Leach. “Prices are still too high for many people and that simply must change by 2030.
“Manufacturers are competing to deliver an electric car that sells in the £10,000 range. That will require a great deal of R&D.”
With 49 per cent of all global patents filed at WIPO, US manufacturers dominate the EV patent ranks, followed by China – which has registered 3,901 patents in 2020/2021. In the same period, the UK filed only 65 patents, focusing specifically on lithium-ion batteries.
“This picture is worrying, but statistics alone don’t tell the whole story,” Leach added. “UK engineering experts and entrepreneurs are already making the UK a hub for electric vehicle development.”
“The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre is a significant step forward in that regard, but once it has been developed, new technology must be protected if it is going to provide real value to business over the long term.”
Opened in Coventry in July, the £130m centre was developed by the UK Government to foster innovation in battery technology.