A new study of the global auto industry's patent activity by Thomson Reuters reveals a 182% increase in patents related to alternative power and technologies since 2006.
A total of 14,977 unique inventions have been patented in the last year studied alone (2011). Overall, Toyota led the way during the five-year period with 1,901 patents, followed by Honda (587), Denso, General Motors, and Panasonic (maker of Toyota Prius batteries).
"With stringent new fuel economy standards introduced in the U.S. that require global auto manufacturers to double their average mileage requirements, car companies have gotten very serious about alternative power," said Bob Stembridge, an intellectual property analyst at Thomson Reuters and author of the study. "The aggressive R&D efforts of some of the leading manufacturers suggest that consumer options for alternative power will grow considerably in the coming decade."
For some reason the wisdom of smaller-than-standard size vans evaded North America until mid-2009 when the first Transit Connect arrived. The vehicle immediately won North American Truck of the Year at the 2010 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and has proven itself popular with buyers ever since.