Ford Motor may have cheered investors with back-to-back reports this week that it netted almost $1 billion in the third quarter and increased its market share and year-over-year sales in October. (See this report from my BW colleague David Welch.) But the No. 3 car seller in the U.S. is laps behind in the alternative energy race, says a new study from Thomson Reuters.
The financial info company tallied patents and patent applications in alternative energy, an area it considers to be a proxy for automotive innovation, from 2008 through 2009’s first quarter. Ford finished 12th, with 137 patent grants and filings. No. 1 Toyota Motor had 2,899—or 21 times more than Ford. Even General Motors bested Ford, coming in fourth, with 451 patent documents. (GM also outsells Ford, as does Toyota.)
Thomson Reuters also examined patent data in two other areas on the forefront of innovation—vehicle security and navigation—in 2003 and again in 2008 and the first quarter of this year. Ford didn’t make the top 20 in any of these rankings.
Not to dump too much on Ford, I should note that it is moving up in alt-energy patents. In 2003, the carmaker wasn’t even in the top 20, with 43 grants and applications. In 2008, it was 13th, with 116. I have asked Ford for a response, but haven’t heard back.
For the record, here’s the top 12 list in alternative-powered vehicle patents in the most recent five-quarter period:
1. Toyota 2,899
2. Nissan 601
3. Hyundai 549
4. GM 451
5. Honda 449
6. Matsushita 383
7. Nippondenso 334
8. Sanyo 219
9. Sumitomo 198
10. Hitachi 196
11. Bosch 144
12. Ford 137
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