Electric vehicles charging forward

A new report from Clarivate, The road ahead: Sustainable vehicles today and in the future, harnesses the power of unified IP, augmented with enriched academic research insights, to unlock valuable insights and hidden opportunities in the burgeoning global electric vehicles sector.


The electric present

Electric vehicles have captured the public imagination. Around the turn of the millennium, the emergence of affordable, hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles, coincided with another phenomenon – the rise of the environmentally conscious consumer. Electric vehicles (EVs) may only make up only a small fraction of global car sales but the potential is huge and by 2040, they are predicted to account for more than half.[1] It’s hardly surprising then that companies in the auto sector, from Ford and GM to Volkswagen and Volvo, have embraced electrification, investing and transforming their operations, production processes and partnerships.

For most of the twentieth century, EVs were unable to compete with the vehicle range and price of their petroleum-fueled counterparts. The tide truly started to turn when one of the modern pioneers of electric vehicles, Toyota, launched its hybrid electric car, the Prius. Toyota overcame EVs’ design issues that had, for decades, meant petroleum-fueled cars had the edge.

How did Toyota succeed where many before failed? Afterall, the electrification of vehicles is not a recent innovation. In fact, they were briefly popular in the 1890s and early twentieth century, until mass produced, affordable, petroleum-fueled vehicles arrived and dominated the market.

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The power of unified IP

By unleashing the full potential of unified IP – complemented with academic research insights – in our new report, not only can we better grasp Toyota’s IP and innovation strategy for EVs, we unearth valuable insights on the state of innovation in EVs and the sector’s hidden opportunities.

Critically, we track the problems that innovators in EVs are trying to solve. Our data shows that there is a surprising lack of focus in charge time and battery capacity. Based on innovation s-curve theory, our analysis tells us that rapid charging is the least solved challenge and should be the focus of the industry’s research.  Solve this problem and it has the potential to open up EVs to replace internal combustion engine vehicles.


“Based on innovation s-curve theory, our analysis tells us that rapid charging is the least solved challenge and should be the focus of the industry’s research.”


Geographic innovation and litigation trends

In the report, we also explore geographic innovation trends across two key facets – where ideas are being produced and where they are protected as intellectual property assets. The first is tied to the research and development centers of the major innovators, while the latter relates to where EV sales mostly take place.

Furthermore, using publication data from the Web of Science™, our global citation database, we found that the principal countries involved in the publication of EV-related papers are similar to the leading geographic centers of innovation.

We also look at trends in EV litigation and see interesting contrasts from litigation concerning traditional automotive technologies.


Expanding EV ecosystem

Another fascinating aspect is our analysis of the top 75 entities in the expanding EV ecosystem. For the best part of a century, the automotive sector has been dominated by the major auto manufacturers. While many well-known vehicle manufacturers are predictably a part of the top 75, there are also companies involved in the automotive component supply chain and generalist companies that develop multi-platform technologies on the list.


Unlocking hidden opportunities, looking to the future

There are many exciting EV innovations, from artificial intelligence for driverless cars to solar powered electric vehicles and novel battery charging solutions. Innovation is key to driving growth and competitive advantage in any industry, perhaps even more so for EVs and indeed sustainable transportation, as sustainability has become a strategic imperative for companies, both big and small. It is more important than ever before that IP sits at the heart of business and innovation strategies.

By unifying data, tools and services across all data classes, we can help our customers in the EV industry and beyond to unlock the full potential of their IP across the entire innovation lifecycle and successfully navigate today’s complex and often unpredictable global innovation landscape.


Read the new report: The road ahead: Sustainable vehicles today and in the future.

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[1] PV Magazine, “The future of cars is electric – but how soon is this future?”, May 2020