Clarivate Plc has released a new report, The road ahead: sustainable vehicles today and in the future, that reveals the state of innovation in electric vehicles (EVs), the changing competitive landscape and geographic trends. Despite impressive strides in innovation in the last two decades, vehicle charge time and battery capacity are unsolved, critical design issues and overcoming them is vital to unlocking the market potential for electric vehicles.
Based on global journal publication data from Clarivate, the report finds that the annual number of academic research papers on EVs has risen exponentially since the mid-1990s. Although the first paper appeared more than a century ago, almost three quarters (74%) were published between 2011 and 2020.1
Evolving design challenges for electric vehicles
However, there are barriers holding back greater adoption of electric vehicles and a recent survey highlighted consumer concerns regarding EVs’ range and inadequate charging infrastructure. EV inventive activity in the last two decades to the present has been centered on cost, reliability and safety, based on advanced patent intelligence from Clarivate. In comparison, there are low levels of inventive activity to reduce EVs’ charging time and improve battery capacity. Overcoming these key challenges is critical to unlocking mass-market adoption of EVs.
Trademark research data from Clarivate reinforces the unsolved state of charging technology. Trademark applications at the major IP offices, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) showed that applications covering chargers and charging station services for EVs lag other EV applications, and only started to increase substantially since 2017.
Gordon Samson, President, IP Group, Clarivate, said, “Since the launch of the world’s first mass production hybrid electric vehicle ushered in a new era in the automotive industry, we’ve witnessed impressive technological advancement of electric vehicles. However, its full market potential is yet to be realized. As our report shows, key design issues must be overcome to unlock the sector’s full potential. We believe human ingenuity can change the world and EV innovation will accelerate societal progress in building a better and more sustainable future.”
Dissecting geographic trends
While innovation is often associated with where ideas are produced, the report reveals that tracking geographic innovation trends has another facet – where ideas are protected as intellectual property assets. The highest volumes of inventive activity come from research and development (R&D) centers of major innovators, primarily in Japan, Mainland China, South Korea, Germany and the United States, homes to the world’s leading EV producers. Filing locations speak to where EV car sales will mostly take place, showing the influx of Japanese and European protection in the United States, Europe and Mainland China.
The growing popularity of EVs has a significant impact on litigation activity. Most EV litigation is taking place in Europe, Mainland China and Japan. This contrasts with litigation concerning traditional automotive technologies, which historically have taken place mostly in the United States and Europe, with little activity in Asia.
Other key findings from the report include:
- Branding in a digital world – there is a lack of common “left of the dot” strings across auto companies’ .brand TLDs, indicating that each auto manufacturer is deploying a unique .brand strategy and reflecting the various options available to .brand TLD owners.
- Top 75 entities in the EV space – the list includes car manufacturers such as Toyota and Volkswagen, component suppliers including Bosch and Denso and technology enablers such as LG Chem and Panasonic.
Samson concluded, “Sustainability has become a strategic imperative, not just for the automotive sector, but for the world. As the transition to electric vehicles and sustainable transportation intensifies, it is our mission to provide businesses with integrated solutions that drive meaningful and impactful progress towards solving one of the world’s most complex challenges.”